Black Americans report more concerns about COVID impact, less trust in law enforcement

New Axios/Ipsos poll shows social distancing coming to an end, but virus’ effects felt differently by race, partisanship.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington DC, June 2, 2020

The latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index shows that as America uncoils from the coronavirus lockdowns, experiences and fears vary widely by race and partisanship, potentially fueling the dramatic protests observed over the last week. With localities reopening, Americans are starting to reengage with each other, however concerns remain high and fewer report restarting commercial activities.

 Detailed Findings

1. African Americans report different, and generally worse, impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Over a quarter (28%) of African Americans know someone who has died due to coronavirus compared to only 11% of White Americans.
  • Despite only a small difference between the number of African Americans (41%) who know someone that has tested positive for coronavirus compared to white respondents (31%).
  • More than half (61%) of employed African Americans are at least somewhat concerned about their job security, compared to 39% among White Americans.
  • A third (33%) of African Americans report their personal finances are in poor shape right now, almost twice the level seen among whites (18%).  

2. African Americans have less trust in both the national and local government responses, and express major concerns with biases in the effects of the pandemic.

  • Fewer than one in five (18%) African Americans trust the federal government to look out after the best interests of their families. Local (46%) and state (52%) governments do slightly better.
  • African Americans express extremely low levels of trust in local police forces (36%) compared to White Americans (77%).
  • Most African Americans (75%) are extremely or very concerned about the pandemic doing greater damage to people of color compared to 42% of Hispanic Americans and 30% of White Americans who say the same.
  • Likewise, 70% of African Americans are extremely or very concerned with the official pandemic response being biased against certain groups, compared to 32% of White Americans.
Wave 11 Chart

3. This comes as total social distancing draws to a close, although people remain slow to reengage in commercial activities.

  • Forty-five percent of Americans visited friends or relatives in the last week, up from 38% two weeks ago and basically in line with the 48% in early March as our tracking and the pandemic began.
  • Only a quarter (26%) report self-quarantining (down from 35%) and 80% report social distancing (down from 87%).
  • However, less than one in five (18%) report going out to eat, 12% report going to a salon or barber, and 37% report going to a non-grocery retail establishment.

4. Most Americans continue to wear masks out of home, with only a few reporting altercations based on mask use.

  • Fifty percent of Americans report wearing a mask ‘at all times’ when leaving the home with an additional 27% reporting wearing one some, but not all the time. Only 10% report never wearing a mask.
  • Of people who wear a mask, 12% report that they’ve told someone else to put a mask on, and only 3% report that someone else has told them to remove the mask.
  • Among people who, at least occasionally, do not wear a mask, 15% report that they’ve been told by someone else to put one on, and over a quarter (28%) say they’ve not been allowed into an establishment without a mask.

Washington DC, May 19, 2020

1. Americans are open to locally-run, in-person contact tracing systems.

  • A large majority of Americans say they would likely follow several key aspects of contact tracing systems including 84% who say they would be likely to self-quarantine if they were notified that they came into contact with a coronavirus-infected individual and two-thirds (76%) would give officials a list of all the people they had recently come into contact with.
  • However, fewer (56%) would give access to their cell phone location data echoing the 51% who would opt-into a cell-phone based tracing system established by public health officials in our wave 9 study.
Wave 10 Chart

2. The end of social distancing is driven by seeing friends and family.

  • Over a third (38%) of Americans report visiting friends or relatives in the last week, up 6 percentage points from last week, and almost twenty from the high point of social distancing in mid-April. Likewise, nearly a third (31%) of parents report their kids playing with other kids in the last week.
  • While also climbing, many fewer Americans report going out to eat (12%) or going to a salon (7%) in the last week.
  • Sixty-four percent of Americans currently view seeing family or friends as a large or moderate risk to their health, down from 81% in mid-April. Currently, 74% view dining in at a restaurant and 66% view going to a salon as a large or moderate risk.  

3. Memorial Day is going to be a questionable start to the Summer holiday season.

  • Half of Americans (49%) say they have canceled summer vacation plans.
  • Seventy-five percent view taking a vacation as a large or moderate risk to their health while 84% view attending a sporting event as a large or moderate risk.

4. Trust in the federal government continues to decline as state governments hold steady.

  • Slightly more than a third (37%) of Americans currently say they trust the federal government to look out after the best interests of their family, down from 43% in late April.
  • Almost two-thirds (61%) currently trust their state governments, a figure that has held steady since late April.
  • Employers (78%) and local health officials and healthcare workers (84%) remain the most trusted.

Washington DC, May 12, 2020

The ninth week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds social distancing continues to decline as fewer people see visiting friends and family as a major risk. However, about one in eight report knowing someone in their community who tested positive and over three-quarters report wearing a mask when leaving the home.

Detailed Findings

1. Social distancing continues to decline as states begin to reopen and people tire of the quarantines.

  • 32% of Americans report visiting friends or relatives in the last week, up from 26% last week and 19% in mid-April.
  • Additionally, the number who report ‘self-quarantining’ is down to 36% from a high of 55% in early April.
Chart

2. While still a significant concern, fewer Americans are seeing coronavirus as a major risk.

  • Two-thirds (64%) of Americans say returning to their pre-coronavirus lives right now would be a large or moderate risk to their health and well-being, down from 72% in mid-April.
  • Fewer Americans are also seeing in-person gatherings (81%->68%), going to the grocery store (70%->54%), or doing their job (39%->33%) as a large or moderate risk compared to mid-April.  

3. Most Americans say they are following guidelines when leaving the home, but see others not giving social distancing space.

  • Most (60%) of Americans say they are maintaining a distance of at least 6ft from others outside their homes and half (50%) report wearing a mask all of the time.
  • However, only about one in five report seeing others wearing masks (18%) or maintaining social distance (17%) all of the time.

4. Few Americans are likely to opt-in to cell phone-based contact tracing systems at this time.

  • Only about a third of Americans say they are likely to opt-in to cell phone based contact tracing systems established by the federal government (31%), major tech companies (33%), or cell phone companies (35%).
  • A bare majority (51%) would join a CDC sponsored cell phone-based system.

5. Americans still think going back to work — and getting there — is risky.

  • A majority (58%) of people who are working from home, have returned to work, had their business shut down, are furloughed, or laid off think going back to work is a moderate or large risk.
  • Using ride-sharing or taxis is seen as risky for three quarters (75%) of Americans.

Washington, DC, May 5, 2020

The eighth week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds Americans reporting increased visits with friends and family as longing for company frays social distancing. Additionally, declining trust in state governments is observed in the early-reopening states of Florida, Georgia, and Texas.

Detailed Findings

1. Over a quarter of Americans report visiting friends and family in the past week, up from mid-April.

2. American working conditions are largely unchanged with significant parts of the population still working from home or out of work.

3. The number of Americans reporting receiving stimulus money increased, however, much of it still seems to not be going back into the economy.

4. Trust in state governments to take care of people is trending down, driven most strongly by residents of states pushing to re-open.

Chart

Washington, DC, April 28, 2020

The seventh week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds America adapting to the quarantine equilibrium, even as partisanship and some slippage of social distancing start to appear. Additionally, over a quarter of Americans now know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus while about 1 in 8 know someone who has died.

Detailed Findings

1. Americans are acclimating as fewer report negative impacts on their mental health, emotional well-being, stress, and ability to do their jobs. Additionally, fewer people report shortages or inability to find staple items.

  • 28% of Americans report worsening mental health, down from 34% in early April. Likewise, 34% report worsening emotional well-being, down from 41%.
  • 33% report their ability to do their job has gotten worse, down from 47% in early April.
  • 46% report that their ability to access food and household needs has gotten worse, down from 66% in late March.

2. Concern about the pandemic and trust in the federal and state government responses continue to be strongly tied to partisanship.

  • Republicans, particularly Republicans who get most of their news from Fox News, are more likely to trust the federal government (66%) and less likely to think that returning to their pre-coronavirus lives tomorrow is a major risk (58%).
  • Democrats widely distrust the federal government (28%), trust governors (71%), and believe returning to normal right now is a big risk (84%).

3. Much of the stimulus money does not appear to be going directly back into local economies.

  • Only half of Americans (49%) report receiving government stimulus money, unchanged from last week.
  • Among those who have, a third (38%) report putting it into savings with an additional 18% reporting not spending it yet.
  • A quarter (25%) report using the stimulus money to pay for food and household needs and 14% report using it to pay rent or mortgage.
Chart

4. The number of Americans reporting visiting friends and relatives is up for the first time since the pandemic began, suggesting some fraying to social distancing.

  • This week 24% of Americans report visiting friends and family in the last week, up from 19% last week. This increase is seen across most demographic groups.

Washington, DC, April 21, 2020

The sixth week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds that Republicans are increasingly likely to minimize the risk of the coronavirus pandemic while Democratic trust of the federal government response continues to erode. Both sides continue to hold state governments and health professionals in high regard.  

Detailed Findings

1. Republicans, who had increased in levels of concern about the coronavirus pandemic over the last few weeks, have reversed course as the President and Republican governors have shifted towards a focus on ending social distancing.

  • This week, 49% of Republicans are extremely or very concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, down from 56% last week.
  • This is while 80% of Democrats remain concerned.   
graph

2. Over two-thirds of Americans think going back to their pre-coronavirus lives right now would be a moderate or large risk to their health.

  • Partisanship appears to have a stronger connection to perceptions of risk than many other demographic factors.
  • Only 21% of Republicans view going back to their normal lives to be a ‘large’ risk compared to 52% of Democrats.

3. Most measures of personal or professional impact of the pandemic are stable from last week.

  • Physical and mental health impacts are roughly equal to where they were seen last week with about 1/3 reporting worsened mental or emotional well being and 1/6 reporting worsened physical health.
  • 2 in 5 employed Americans continue to work from home while over 1 in 4 have been furloughed, laid off, or had their employers close, again consistent with last week.

4. Almost half of Americans report receiving government stimulus money.

  • 49% of Americans report receiving stimulus money from the government in the past few weeks. Americans between the ages of 30 and 64, Midwestern, have some college education, and suburban and rural are more likely to report receiving the government aid.

Washington, DC, April 14, 2020 

The fifth week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds while the country continues to maintain the uneasy quarantine equilibrium, Americans still working out in the world feel more at risk. At the same time, the number of Americans who know someone infected continues to climb. 

Detailed Findings

1. Over half of Americans still working outside of the home feel that doing their jobs puts their health and wellness at risk right now compared to a small minority of those working from home.

  • This week, 57% of Americans still working out in the world report that they feel doing their job is a moderate or large risk to their health. Of those working from home only 13% say the same.
  • However, those working in the world are also less likely to report using a mask (44%) compared to the average of all Americans 56%.
  • Additionally, those furloughed, laid off, or whose employers closed are more likely to report increasing household debt over the last month (34%).
Graph

2. About one in five Americans now know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The greatest concentration of people with coronavirus in their personal network remains the Northeast region including New York, but the South has posted the greatest rate of increase over the last week.

  • 19% of Americans report knowing someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, up from 14% last week and 10% two weeks ago.
  • 31% of people in the Northeast report knowing someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, while 18% of people in the South report knowing someone.

3. In what could be viewed as positive news, the outbreak appears to have increased the amount of quality leisure time for many Americans.

  • Two in five Americans (43%) report spending more time talking with their family compared to a month ago. A similar level (41%) report spending more time on home improvement or craft projects.
  • Over half (53%) report watching more television in the last month.
  • However, one in eight (16%) say the amount or intensity of disagreements with family or friends have increased in the last month. This is particularly acute among those who have been furloughed or laid off (26%).

Washington, DC, April 7, 2020

The fourth week of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds a country taking its breath after profound changes to the shape of society. Social distancing and work statistics appear to have stabilized as the outbreak continues to progress. 

Detailed Findings

1. The number of Americans reporting that they are self-quarantining or working remotely is mostly unchanged from last week as the nation pauses after the pronounced changes in late March.

  • This week, 55% of Americans say they are self-quarantining (up from 53% last week) while 45% report working remotely (up from 42% last week).
  • The number of Americans reporting being furloughed (19%), their employer shutting down (17%), or being laid off (11%) are also mostly unchanged from last week.

2. About one in eight Americans now know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The greatest concentration of people with coronavirus in their personal network is in the Northeast region including New York, but the South has posted the greatest rate of increase over the last week.

  • 14% of Americans report knowing someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, up from 10% last week.
  • 23% of people in the Northeast report knowing someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, up 3 percentage points from last week (20%) while 13% of people in the South report knowing someone, almost double the number from last week (7%).
  • Additionally, Americans who are continuing to work in their normal workplace context report the greatest increase in proximity (18% up from 10% last week).
wave 4

3. Anxiety levels around the coronavirus continue to climb as people adjust to the new circumstances. However, relatively few report acute financial challenges for the moment.

  • 47% of working adults report that their ability to effectively do their jobs has gotten worse over the past few weeks.
  • About 1 in 5 (19%) say their ability to pay rent or their mortgage has worsened over the last few weeks and a quarter (26%) say their ability to afford household goods has worsened.

Washington, DC, April 1, 2020

The third week of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds that over half of Americans are self-quarantining and concern about the pandemic continues to increase as people adjust to the new normal.  

Detailed Findings

1. Over half of Americans, or about 175 million people, say they are self-quarantining as in-person social contact continues to dwindle.

  • This week 53% of Americans tell us they are self-quarantining, up from 39% last week and 10% two weeks ago.
  • In-person social contact continues to decline with only 13% reporting ‘going out to eat’ (down from 25% last week and 56% two weeks ago) or 23% visiting friends or relatives (down from 32% and 48% two weeks ago).
Self-quarantine

2. The sudden shift to the American workforce appears to be, at the moment, stabilized.

  • From last week, roughly equivalent numbers reporting being told to work from home (42% vs 40% last week), their employer shutting down (16% vs 18% last week), or being furloughed (20% vs 22% last week).
  • 9% of (formerly) employed respondents report being laid off.
  • Likewise, the number who report their employers shutting down has almost doubled (to 16% from 10%) as has the number being furloughed or otherwise told not to work (to 20% from 10%).

3. Americans appear to be adapting to the new normal of the coronavirus pandemic with stability on mental health and work efficiency measures.

  • Slightly fewer Americans report worsening mental health compared to last week (30% worse vs 35% last week) and emotional well-being (37% from 43% last week), while worsening physical health has remained stable (at 14%).
  • Among working adults, about the same number report worsened ability to do their jobs compared to last week (43% vs 44%).
  • The worst of supply chain shocks appear to be last week as the number attempting, but failing to buy basic foods (at 18% from 23% last week) or toilet paper (at 34% from 37% last week) has stabilized.
Adapting to the new normal

Washington, DC, March 24, 2020

The second week of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds that the number of Americans self-quarantining and working remotely have spiked in just one week, as anxiety around the outbreak increases.  

Detailed Findings

1. Over the last week, Americans have sharply increased their social distancing practices.

  • The number of Americans who say they are self-quarantining has almost quadrupled, up to 39% this week (fielded March 20-23) versus only 10% this time last week (March 13-16).
  • Many more have also stopped attending large gatherings (74% now, from 46%) or canceled travel (48% now, from 30%).
  • Americans also report reducing social contact such as going out to eat (down to 25% from 56% last week) or visiting friends (down to 32% from 48%).
coronavirus impact

2. Likewise, the in-person workforce is rapidly shrinking as Americans either move to work from home or not working

  • Among working Americans, the number who report being told to work from home has doubled, up to 40% from 21% last week.
  • Likewise, the number who report their employers shutting down has almost doubled (to 18% from 10%) as has the number being furloughed or otherwise told not to work (to 22% from 10%).
coronavirus impact on work

3. Though the widespread effects on public health remain to be felt, the outbreak has already started to impact emotional and mental health.

  • Virtually all (90%) Americans are concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, including 59% who are very concerned.
  • Sharply increased numbers of Americans report worsening mental health (35% worse vs 22% last week) and emotional well-being (43% from 29%), while physical health has posted less significant changes (to 14% from 8%).

Washington, DC, March 17, 2020

The inaugural Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index – a weekly tracking survey fielded on the Ipsos KnowledgePanel – finds that while Americans are highly concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak, many are slow to shift behaviors that may contribute to the virus’s spread.

This survey, fielded March 13-16, 2020, as the American public started to come to grips with the severity of COVID-19, finds that while 79% are concerned about the outbreak, 56% went out to eat and 48% visited friends in the last week.

However, there are signs that the public is responding to expert guidance to create ‘social distance.’ Nearly half (46%) report skipping large gatherings, 64% say they have stopped shaking hands, and 93% are washing their hands for the recommended 20 seconds. Additionally, 10% of the public say they are ‘self-quarantining’ and avoiding contact with others.

The findings of this study are more stark on the professional front, with 21% of working respondents reporting that they have been told to work remotely and 10% saying their employers have shut down completely.

About the Study

This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 13th to 16th, 2020 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,092 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 2 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 20th to 23rd, 2020 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 998 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 3 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 27th to 30th, 2020 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,355 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 4 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 3rd to 6th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,136 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 5 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 10th to 13th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,098 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 6 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 17th to 20th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,021 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 7 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 24th to 27th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,021 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 8 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted May 1st to 4th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,012 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 9 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted May 8th to 11th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 980 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 10 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted May 15th to 18th, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,009 general population adults age 18 or older.

This Wave 11 Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted May 29th to June 1st, 2020 by Ipsos KnowledgePanel®  – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,033 general population adults age 18 or older.

The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, the largest and most well-established online panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in these households are invited to join and participate in KnowledgePanel. Ipsos provides a tablet and internet connection at no cost to households that do not already have internet access. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methods, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and provide fully representative online samples to the research community.

The study was conducted in English. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. The demographic weighting benchmarks are from the 2019 March supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male/Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Non-Hispanic, Black/Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races/Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (Less than High School, High School graduate, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 - 3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.10 - 1.22. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

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 Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs

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