Many are experiencing heightened state of anxiety during pandemic, with fear of second COVID-19 wave top of mind for Americans

New MDVIP/Ipsos poll finds that despite plethora of coronavirus concerns, the pandemic is a source of motivation to take steps to improve one’s health

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Marie-Pierre Lemay Senior Account Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, August 12, 2020

A new MDVIP/Ipsos poll finds that four in five Americans are worried about a second wave of COVID-19 infections in their state/community (79%) – and seeing others not adhering to the latest safety guidelines (e.g., not wearing a mask, not physical distancing) causes just over seven in ten (71%) to worry a great deal/moderate amount. The constant barrage of coronavirus information in the media is adding to the unease – with nearly three in five (57%) saying they have had to take a break from the news and/or social media to help reduce stress/anxiety.

  • Compared to their demographic counterparts, women, people with increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and caregivers are significantly more likely to be worried about both a second wave of the disease and others not respecting public health guidelines.
  • These same groups also stand out as being more likely to admit they have had to step away from the media to reduce stress and anxiety. News-related anxiety appears to decrease with age, with greater proportions of those under the age of 65 saying they have disconnected during the pandemic to reduce stress (66% of those age 35-49 and 59% age 50-64 vs. 45% of those age 65+).
  • Concerns over a potential second wave (90%) and others not following health guidelines (84%) are also much more pronounced for adults over the age of 65 living in the Tri-State area.

The survey, which features a sample of roughly 1,500 adults ages 35 and over, found that more than half are also worried about contracting COVID-19 (56%), spreading the virus to others (60%), becoming hospitalized/dying from the virus (54%), and the long-term effects the virus may have on physical health (56%).

  • Among older adults (65+) in the Tri-State area, the proportion who are worried about these factors increases to roughly two thirds.

The state of anxiety propelled by the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many. One in two Americans agree that they have been feeling more stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the pandemic (51%) and a third admit that there have been times during the pandemic/lockdown where they felt like they were losing their mind (32%). The virus has resulted in growing paranoia for some, with two in five stating that now, whenever they cough or have a headache or sore throat, they worry that they have COVID-19 (38%).

  • Among parents (50% vs. 27% of those with no children), adults between the ages of 35-44 (54% vs. 15% of those age 65+), and caregivers (47% vs. 29% of those who are not caregivers), the proportion who have felt as though they are losing their minds jumps to roughly half.
  • Parents, young adults, and caregivers are also significantly more likely to report recently feeling added stress/anxiety/depression and to worry excessively that they may have contracted COVID-19.
  • As with older adults in the national sample, adults over the age of 65 from the tri-state area are much less likely to say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental/emotional health compared to the overall results.

Though sizeable proportions say they have a strong social support system to help them get through the pandemic (74%), a third acknowledge that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their relationships with family and/or friends (33%). This is particularly true for parents (45% vs. 30% of those with no children), young adults (44% of those age 35-44 vs. 29% of those age 65+), and caregivers (46% vs. 30% of those who are not caregivers). One in five have sought or are considered seeking help from a doctor and/or therapist for emotional support during the pandemic (19%).

  • Parents (30% vs. 16% of those with no children), young adults (34% of those age 35-44 vs. 9% of those 65+), and caregivers (37% vs. 15% of those who are not caregivers) are twice as likely to have considered/sought professional help for emotional support compared to their demographic counterparts.

The pandemic has also impacted the physical health and lifestyle habits of Americans. More than a third (36%) say that they have developed unhealthy habits during the pandemic (e.g., overeating, drinking, not exercising) – with those age 35-44 (50%), caregivers (47%), and parents (46%) among those most likely to agree.

  • Though the majority of adults have maintained their pre-pandemic habits, more than a quarter say that they are exercising less (27% vs. 25% who are doing more of this) since the social distancing/stay-at-home orders first began around March, and nearly as many say that they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep as often as they used to (24% vs. 24% who are doing more of this).

However, there is a silver lining. For nearly seven in ten (69%), the pandemic has been a source of motivation to take steps to improve their own health. Currently, one in four say that they are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet more now compared to before the pandemic (28% vs. 17% who are doing less of this), taking more vitamins/supplements (27% vs. 7% who are doing less of this), and managing/reducing stress more effectively (25% vs. 18% who are).

  • Adults with children living at home, those who are working full-time, those under the age of 55 (particular those age 35-44), and caregivers stand out as being significantly more likely to have increased their participation in a range of healthy lifestyle habits, including greater proportions who report they are currently eating better, exercising more, reducing stress levels and getting a good night’s sleep.

Furthermore, the pandemic has inspired many Americans to prioritize adopting a preventative approach to their own health, with approximately half saying that getting their body weight under control (52%), getting an annual physical/check-up to stay on top of their health (49%), staying up to date on recommended vaccinations (50%), and getting screened for health conditions that may put them at higher risk for developing severe illness (46%) are now more important to them versus before the pandemic.

Taking such preventative measures in the future is now especially important for those who already have a primary care doctor, those who are at increased risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, adults under the age of 55, those who say the pandemic has motivated them to improve health, and caregivers.

  • Though adults over the age of 65 are typically less likely to prioritize such preventative health strategies compared to younger adults, staying up to date with vaccines stands out as being especially important for this group (54% of adults 65+ nationally and 57% of adults 65+ from the Tri-State area).

To learn more about the findings from this study, download the PDF report on this page.


About the Study


These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 9 - 14, 2020 on behalf of MDVIP. For the survey, a sample of 1,535 adults ages 35 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. An additional national sample of 305 adults age 65 and over from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut was interviewed. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±2.9 percentage points for all respondents, and ±6.4 percentage points for older adults (65+) in the tri-state region.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.  

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,535, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.4 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]
Marie-Pierre Lemay
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 613 793-1622
[email protected]   


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Marie-Pierre Lemay Senior Account Manager, US, Public Affairs