Today, Americans are actually avoiding others as much as possible and taking additional steps to protect themselves from the coronavirus, according to a survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that shows how concerns about infection have grown sharply in the past 6 wks.
The survey revealed Americans are increasingly isolating, washing their hands and avoiding touching their face.
Large portions of the country are confronting layoffs and pay cuts and are adjusting to children forced home from school and day care because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended American life and the nation’s economy.
Fully, 50% of Americans now say they are extremely or very worried that they or a family member will be infected by the virus. That compares with 31% who said the same in mid-March and 22% in February. Another 34% are somewhat worried, while just 16% say they are not worried.
The rise in concern comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has grown to about 1.3-M against a 7-B+ population worldwide and about 340-K in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Government containment efforts have canceled in-person classes for most of the country’s students, thrown more than 10-M people out of work and put 90% of the population under stay-at-home orders.
Confronted by the seriousness of the pandemic, Americans are more likely than they were in mid-March to report taking protective steps.
Today, 94% of Americans say they are staying away from large groups, up from 68%. Somewhat fewer, though a vast majority, 86%, say they are avoiding other people as much as possible.
41 states are now under a statewide stay-at-home order, while in the remaining 9 states some orders have been issued at the city or county level. But there are not wide differences in behavior based on where a person lives, according to the poll.
Americans in states that were not under a statewide stay-at-home order on or before 26 March were about as likely as Americans in states that were under such a directive to say they were avoiding contact with others.
The change in behavior is not limited to staying at home or avoiding groups.
92% of Americans say they are washing their hands more often and 70% are avoiding touching their face. 52% report stocking up on extra food, compared with 35% who said they were doing so earlier in March. And just 16% say they are consulting with a healthcare provider.
While the public’s concern has risen overall, but partisan differences are telling.
Republicans are far less worried than Democrats about themselves or a relative being infected with the coronavirus. Just 35% are extremely or very worried, compared with 61% of Democrats who are highly concerned. Another 40% Republicans are somewhat worried, and 25 are not worried at all.
The share of Republicans who are very worried has grown from 21% in AP-NORC’s mid-March poll.
The widespread closing of schools and day cares also has caused concern.
Among parents with a child in school or day care, nearly all, 96%, say it has closed, 33% of them say they are extremely or very concerned about their child falling behind academically, with another 3rd somewhat concerned.
The closing of businesses and global economic uncertainty have widely impacted working Americans.
Among those who were employed prior to the outbreak, 23% say they or a household member has already been laid off, 38% scheduled for fewer hours, 27% taken unpaid time off and 26% had wages or salary reduced.
In all, 50% of workers have experienced at least one form of lost household income. Those with lower incomes and without college degrees are especially likely to say households have been hit by layoffs.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,057 adults was conducted between 26-29 March using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. The respondents were 1st selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by telephone.
Have a healthy day, stay home, Keep the Faith!