Industry Analysis

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

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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.
GLENN TREVOR
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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