Most Americans Agree that Keeping Up with COVID-19 News is Overwhelming

Latest Newsy/Ipsos poll shows that less Americans now are watching news more often than they typically would when compared to previous weeks

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 18, 2020 – As the coronavirus pandemic continues, a new Newsy/Ipsos poll finds that the number of Americans who are watching the news more the normal has decreased since midApril. A majority agree that keeping up with COVID-19 news is overwhelming, and half are seeking out other news unrelated to the pandemic. Around half of Americans continue to agree that they feel lonelier since social distancing began, and there are signs that people are starting to relax their stance on social distancing with most reporting they met at least once with a friend or family member they do not live with in the last two weeks. Even so, most are not comfortable going to restaurants, salons, movie theaters, and other establishments as soon as they reopen.      

Detailed Findings   

The number reporting that they are watching the news more than normal has decreased by double digits since last month. 

  • Currently, 29% say they are watching the news more often than normal over the past week, a decrease of 16 percentage points from mid-April (45%). More than one in ten (12%) did not watch the news at all in the past week.
  • Seven in ten (72%) agree that keeping up with COVID-19 news is overwhelming, and half (51%) are seeking out more news and information not related to the virus.  

A majority of Americans continue to report feelings of loneliness. However, many have met up with a friend or family member in-person over the last two weeks.

  • More than half of Americans (54%) still agree that they feel lonelier since social distancing began, unchanged from last month (55%).
  • Around one in ten (12%) have sought out therapy since the pandemic began, with 46% saying it was their first time seeking it. Among those that have sought out therapy, men are significantly more likely than women to say they did so for the first time (63% vs. 21%).
  • Thirty-nine percent have met up with someone outside of their household once or twice over the last two weeks, with another 20% meeting up with someone 3 or more times. Among those that saw someone outside of their household, three quarters (73%) met up outside. Two thirds (67%) came within six feet of someone they do not live with, but far fewer (39%) touched a shared surface without sanitizing after.  

Most Americans are not yet comfortable returning to pre-coronavirus public places, like salons, bars, and gyms.  

  • Less than half of Americans are comfortable going to a hair salon or barber (49%) or a dinein restaurant (44%), and even less are comfortable going to a movie theater (30%), bar (27%), and gym or workout studio (27%) shortly after they reopen.
  • More than half (66%) of employed Americans would be comfortable returning to work soon after their workplace reopens.  

Interest in the presidential election has stayed level for most (54%), with Democrats more likely than any other group to say their interest has increased. Across the board, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris draw the most excitement as Joe Biden’s potential running mate. 

  • Just under half of Democrats (48%) say their interest has stayed the same, compared to 61% of Republicans and 60% of Independents. At the same time, 35% of Democrats report an increased level of interest, compared to just 25% of Republicans and 17% of Independents.
  • Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris would garner the most excitement if chosen as Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee, with over half of Democrats expressing excitement for each (54% and 53% respectively) 


About the Study   

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 13-15, 2020, on behalf of Newsy. For this survey, a sample of 2,009 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. This poll is trended against a Newsy/Ipsos poll conducted between March 20-24, 2020 with a sample of 2,007 U.S. adults and April 16-20, 2020 with a sample of 2,004 U.S. adults.   

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 2.5 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=2,009, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/4.0 percentage points).    

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 7.4 percentage points for those who have sought professional counseling or a therapist since the COVID-19 pandemic began, plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for those who have met up with family/friends outside of their household in the past two weeks, and plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for employed resopndents. For political affilitation, the credibility intervals are plus or minus 4.0, 3.8, and 7.4 percentage points for Republicans, Democrats, and Indpendents, respectively. The polls fielded from March 20-24, 2020 and April 16-20, 2020 have a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.     

For more information on this news release, please contact:     

Mallory Newall 
Director, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 202 420-2014   
[email protected]     

Kate Silverstein 
Media Relations Specialist, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 718 755-8829
[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).    ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP          

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs