Learn more about our FREE COVID-19 Patient Support Program for chronic illness patients and their loved ones.

Illustration of people on beach with peach and blue background
Credit: Tatiana Ayazo

As we enter our third summer in the COVID-19 pandemic, things feel different – while we have vaccines and boosters, many of the traditional safety measures have dropped in the U.S. Masks are no longer required in most places, social distancing is not practiced widely, and many restaurants and event arenas are operating at full capacity.  

Last summer, when people were just getting fully vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lessened the mask and social distancing guidance, and many states rolled back mask-wearing restrictions. We were hit with the Delta variant surge last summer, and would come to have more variants throughout the seasons, bringing concern to those living with chronic illness. 

This summer, there isn’t much guidance being put force by the CDC for staying safe, it mainly focuses on summer camps and schools, not the safety of immunocompromised individuals. People in our community who live with underlying conditions can’t help but feel ignored and left behind as others return to pre-pandemic activities. With summer on the horizon, we wanted to learn more about what activities our community feels comfortable with.   

In our latest poll, the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s COVID-19 Patient Support Program aimed to gain insight into our community’s plans for the summer. We conducted a similar poll last year, and you can learn more about those results here 

Of the 1,002 respondents, 91 percent reported being up to date on all eligible vaccines and/or Evusheld doses. Up to date is defined as receiving all doses in the primary series and one booster when eligible. Getting a second or third one is not necessary to be considered up to date at this time. 

As part of the poll, we asked if participants feel more comfortable doing activities in public this summer compared to prior summers of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • 46% said no 
  • 30% said yes 
  • 24 percent said I’m not sure 

Here are some insights into what activities people with chronic illness feel comfortable doing this summer – and what precautions they will take during them. 

Last summer, people with chronic illness were most comfortable dining outdoors or attending outdoor gatherings with friends and family. 

When asked to select all activities they participated in during summer 2021: 

  • 2% traveled out of the country 
  • 4% went to a sporting event 
  • 5% used public transit (train, subways, etc.) 
  • 5% went to a play or music concert indoors 
  • 6% went to a movie theater 
  • 7% went to a museum 
  • 9% went to a play or music concert outdoors 
  • 12% traveled on airplane 
  • 18% attended indoor parties and gathering with friends and family 
  • 26% dined indoors at a restaurant 
  • 28% traveled out of state, province, or region 
  • 48% attended outdoor parties and gatherings with friends and family 
  • 54% dined outdoors at a restaurant 

 28% said other, and in the free response section of the poll, we learned they did “none of the above” and “stayed home.” 

Poll results image for summer activity plans 2022

This summer, people with chronic illness are planning to travel, dine indoors, and attend indoor gatherings more than they did last year. 

When asked to select all activities they plan to participate in during summer 2022: 

  • 7% plan to travel out of the country 
  • 8% plan to use public transit (train, subways, etc.) 
  • 8% plan to go to a sporting event 
  • 12% plan to go to a play or music concert indoors 
  • 14% plan to go to a museum 
  • 15% plan to go to a movie theater 
  • 20% plan to travel on an airplane 
  • 20% plan to go to a play or music concert outdoors 
  • 32% plan to attend indoor parties and gatherings with friends and family 
  • 38% plan to dine indoors at a restaurant 
  • 43% plan to travel out of state, province, or region 
  • 61% plan to dine outdoors at a restaurant 
  • 61% plan to attend outdoor parties and gatherings with friends and family 

In the free response section of the poll, where people could share more about their summer plans, many wrote they feel more comfortable getting together with a small number of people that they know well (like close friends and family): 

  • “Attend indoor and outdoor only with immediate family.” 
  • “I plan to attend a few small, indoor family gatherings with fully vaccinated people, air purifiers/open windows, and my own and others masking, as needed.” 
  • “Attend outdoor parties if a small number of people attend. That would be 10 or less.” 
  • “Outdoors with one or small group of fully vaxed (4 shots) friends. Outdoor chats, distanced and masked, with neighbors.” 

People with chronic illness are closely monitoring COVID-19 case rates and are more concerned than last year. 

Many are paying close attention to case rates in their area and will make plans and adjust given the cases numbers. 

  • “Will watch local Covid spikes. If up, I am staying home.” 
  • “I might take a trip; all depends on the Covid numbers.” 

Another common sentiment in the free response section was that people are more worried this summer than previous summers of the pandemic since COVID-19 safety precautions are largely not in place anymore. 

  • “Actually, I’m more concerned than last summer since all mask and distancing recommendations have disappeared. I find that anywhere I go, I am the only one masked (and local case numbers are going up).” 
  • “I actually feel more at risk today than two years ago as masks become a thing of the past and healthy people care less and less about getting and spreading the virus.” 
  • “Covid cases are rising. Majority of people are not wearing masks and socially distancing. I feel less safe now more than ever.” 

Many are figuring out COVID safe travel and plan to hit the road this summer. 

If you’re looking for ideas on COVID safe ways to have fun this summer, many are planning road trips in an RV.  

  • “Small group gatherings with close friends and family only. Traveling is via RV only.” 
  • “Travel in state and out of state by RV.” 
  • “Travel in RV both in and out of state.” 
  • “Travel by RV to national parks.” 

For tips to make road trips and car rides easier when you have arthritis, click here. 

Get Free Coronavirus Support for Chronic Illness Patients

Join the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s free COVID-19 Support Program for chronic illness patients and their families. We will be providing updated information, community support, and other resources tailored specifically to your health and safety. 

About the Patient Support Program Quick Poll

Members of our program have underlying health issues – such as inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and more – that may increase their risk for COVID-19 complications. They are interested in understanding the best ways to stay safe during the pandemic and to be part of a community of people with similar concerns, questions, and fears.  

We regularly poll members, who live in the U.S. as well as around the globe, about a variety of topics, including how the pandemic is affecting their lifestyle, mental health, chronic disease management, medication adherence, and more.  

We use this information to inform the educational resources we provide and to inform other stakeholders – such as public health experts, policymakers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, and pharmaceutical companies – about chronic illness patients’ needs and concerns. You can participate in ongoing poll by joining the support program here. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions for Directors of Overnight Camps. May 27, 2022.