By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It’s been a year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the U.S., and a USC study has confirmed what most already know – pandemic fatigue has set in.

The study from USC’s Schaeffer Center from Health Policy & Economics, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that while more people are wearing masks consistently, they are letting their guards down when it comes to staying safe at home and observing social distancing guidelines.

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“Attention to pandemic fatigue is especially relevant given rising concerns about new variants of the virus which may require even greater physical distancing measures to curb transmission,” the study’s co-author, Matthew Crane, said in a statement.

From early April to late November, a survey was sent every two weeks to a subset of the Understanding American Study. In those months, researchers found that people who stayed inside their homes except for essential activities or exercise had decreased from nearly 80% to 41%. The study also found that nearly 38% of people reported having no close contact with people outside their households, way down from nearly 64% at the start of the pandemic.

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A server wearing a protective mask delivers food to diners eating outside at a restaurant in Sausalito, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. California lifted its regional stay-at-home orders, allowing businesses such as outdoor dining to open, as its coronavirus cases slow after an unprecedented surge that strained the states health-care system. (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The study also found that people who were not having visitors over to their homes dropped from 80% to about 58%. People who were avoiding eating in restaurants dropped from 87% to 67%.

The announcement of the vaccine in late November may be one reason why some people are engaging in less-safe behavior amid the pandemic, but the vaccination rollout has hit snags and even then, the authors say social distancing guidelines should remain in place.

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“Vaccines are here but vaccination takes time,” John Romley, the lead researcher of the study and a senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, said in a statement. “In the meantime, we need to stay focused on protecting one another. We should target behaviors that are most effective and least disruptive. We also need to recognize that people may be tempted to let down their guards after the first dose of vaccine.”