How Americans’ Perceptions of COVID-Related Dangers have Shifted Over the Course of the Pandemic

How Americans’ Perceptions of COVID-Related Dangers have Shifted Over the Course of the Pandemic

The insights we found regarding how Americans’ perceptions of COVID-related dangers have shifted over the course of the pandemic pertain to dining out, attending large events, social distancing, disinfecting, and wearing face masks.

Dining Out

  • The following data from Ipsos shows the percentages of Americans who said they were willing to “eat at a restaurant” over the past four months: Mid-May (41%), mid-June (59%), late June (56%), and late July (54%).
  • In mid-March, a Datassential survey found that 41% of people in the U.S. were “nervous or worried to go out to eat, 27% are avoiding going out to restaurants altogether and” less than 33% had “‘no concerns whatsoever’ about dining out.” At that time, the concerns regarding eating out were as follows: “[T]ouching things others have touched” (38%), being in close proximity to others (28%), and staff members touching the food (15%).
  • A poll conducted between late May and early June by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that among Americans who vote, 29% felt very uncomfortable about eating out, 25% were somewhat uncomfortable with that, 21% felt somewhat comfortable, and 24% felt very comfortable doing so.
  • A Harris Poll conducted in late June “found that only 40% of Americans would go out [to eat at a restaurant] within a month of the infection rate flattening.” Among those surveyed, more than 20% said they would wait more “than six months to dine out” following the COVID curve flattening.
  • Survey results published in late July showed that 42% of Americans would eat out at a restaurant while COVID is around. However, a July Ipsos survey found that 54% of Americans were willing to dine out “at a restaurant.”

Attending Large Events

  • The following data from Ipsos shows the percentages of Americans who said they were willing to “attend a sporting event in a large stadium” over the past four months: Mid-May (19%), Mid-June (29%), late June (21%), and late July (22%).
  • The following data from Ipsos shows the percentages of Americans who said they were willing to “go to a movie theater” over the past four months: Mid-May (29%), mid-June (39%), late June (31%), and late July (27%).
  • A poll conducted between late May and early June by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that among Americans who vote, 43% felt very uncomfortable about attending a large event, 22% felt somewhat uncomfortable, 17% felt somewhat comfortable, and 17% felt very comfortable doing so.

Social Distancing

  • In mid-March, Gallup research found that 57% of people in the U.S. were practicing social distancing.
  • In late March, Gallup research showed that 84% of people in the U.S. were practicing social distancing.
  • In the first week of May, Gallup “found that 74% of Americans” were practicing social distancing.
  • Gallup also measured the level of concern among Americans “about [a] lack of social distancing” and found that in mid-April, 47% were worried about such and that percentage stayed relatively the same until late May when it dipped to 45%. By early June, concern about insufficient social distancing dropped further to 41%. However, by mid-June the percentage increased to 49% and climbed further by late June to 54%, its highest level ever.

Face Masks

  • In early May, 75% of Americans wore face masks when they left their homes.
  • A survey conducted by the CDC between April 7 and 9 “found that about 62% [of Americans] said they would follow the newly announced recommendations to wear a face mask when outside the home.” Among Hispanics, 76% said they would do so. However, a survey conducted on those same dates by Morning Consult found that 50% of Americans wore “masks to some extent in the past month, with 26 percent saying they always wore them in public.”
  • The CDC survey conducted between May 11 and 13 found that 76% of Americans endorsed the wearing of face masks. Among Hispanics, 77% endorsed such.
  • A survey of Americans conducted by Morning Consult between July 23 and 26 “found that 95 percent of adults have worn a face mask in the past month in public spaces” (79% said they always did so, while 16% responded that they sometimes did so).
  • The prior survey that was conducted between June 9 and 12 found that 61% of Americans “said they always wore a mask in public in the past month and 27 percent said they sometimes used them.”
  • The Morning Consult survey conducted between July 23 and 26 found that face masks were worn by 95% of Americans either “‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ in public spaces . . . in the past month.”

Disinfecting

  • A survey conducted by Shopkick between March 16-18, 2020, found that among the approximately 24,000 Americans surveyed, approximately 60% were “worried about shopping in-store and, as a result, 85% are taking one or more health precautions. Those measures include disinfecting their hands and shopping carts (92%), shopping at slower times (66%), using debit/credit cards to avoid handling cash (63%) and using self-checkout (59%).”
  • Additionally, 93% of Americans experienced no hand sanitizer in stock “at their preferred retailer or grocery store” in mid-March, as did 91% of Americans for disinfecting wipes.
  • A March 2020 survey found 85% of Americans were “washing their hands or using hand sanitizer more frequently.”
  • We could not find more-recent statistics to show how those concerns have changed over time, but we still wanted to include the above insights as they are relevant to this topic.

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