Perceived Level of Threat COVID-19 Poses to the U.S. and Individuals Doubles in Less Than a Month

Perceived level of threat COVID-19 poses to the U.S. and individuals doubles in less than a month

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
Get in touch

Washington, DC, April 13, 2020

One month after the first USA Today/Ipsos coronavirus poll, we see dramatic behavioral changes and growth in anxiety among the American public. The number that feel the virus poses a high threat to them personally, and to the United States, have both doubled, and concerns over potential job losses have risen by double digits. As a majority have started wearing a mask and/or gloves in public, the number of Americans comfortable with traveling on a plane or by public transportation has plummeted.

More than seven in ten feel the virus poses a high threat to the United States. At the same time, the number of people concerned that their local hospital will not have the resources to treat patients has grown by more than 15 percentage points.

  • In one month, the number of Americans saying COVID-19 poses a high threat to the country has more than doubled from 34% to 71%. Three in ten (29%) say the virus poses a high threat to them personally, up from 15%.
  • The perceived threat to the stock market and global economy have also significantly increased, by 21 and 29 percentage points, respectively.
  • Sixty-one percent are worried their local hospital won’t be able to handle the burden, up from 44% last month.
  • Nearly half of employed people (46%) are concerned about being laid off or furloughed, up from 33%. Presently, this worry is highest among 18-34 year olds (55%).
Chart showing threat virus poses to several items

Support for a nationwide lockdown, requiring people to stay home through the end of April except for essential work, is widespread, and a plurality support grounding all domestic flights.

  • Sixty-nine percent are in favor of implementing a nationwide lockdown for the rest of the month, including majorities from all political affiliations. Eight in ten Democrats favor this plan, along with 62% of Republicans, and 57% of Independents.
  • Support for grounding international and domestic flights has grown significantly over the past month. At the same time, more are in favor of providing airlines with financial assistance. Now, 70% support the U.S. government halting international travel (up from 39%), and 49% feel the government should do the same for domestic flights (up from 22%). Support for temporary financial help for airlines and other affected industries has risen 18 points, from 42% to 60%.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of people saying they would travel by plane or public transportation. Now, just one in ten who have already canceled a personal trip say they would be comfortable taking a personal trip in the next month or sooner.

  • Last month, 44% said they would still travel on a plane right now, and an equal number (45%) felt the same for taking public transportation. Each measure has seen a roughly 30-point drop, as just 16% would travel on a plane and 17% would take public transportation right now.
  • Most Americans who have already canceled a personal trip say they would be comfortable taking a personal trip in the next three to six months (50%). However, another 29% say they would not feel comfortable for at least six months. Just 10 percent would take a trip in the next week or month.
  • Just 14% of those who have already stopped attending social events would feel comfortable attending social events in the next month or sooner. Again, most (55%) would feel more comfortable doing so in the next three to six months.

Washington, DC, March 12, 2020

A new USA Today/Ipsos poll finds that nearly half of Americans believe that the coronavirus outbreak poses a high threat to the stock market (47%) and to the global economy (47%), while less than one in five believe it poses a high threat to them personally (15%). Over half are concerned that someone in their city or town will be diagnosed (54%) and, for parents with children under 18, that their child’s school(s) will close (52%). While a majority report that they plan to wash their hands more frequently (59%), just a quarter say that they plan to stop attending social events, and less than one in five plan to cancel a personal trip (17%). Three in ten Americans report no plans to take preventative measures against the outbreak (30%).

Half say they would not travel on a plane right now, compared to 44% who would. That number is even higher among Americans over age 55 (58% would not travel by plane). Americans are evenly split on whether they would take public transportation (45% agree they would, 47% would not). Only one in five are willing to go on a cruise right now (22%). In terms of a government response, a large majority of Americans want to see the COVID-19 test made widely available (87%), and three-quarters want the government to impose mandatory quarantines for people returning from high risk countries (77%) and temporarily stop immigration from high risk countries (76%). There is an even divide on whether all large-scale events, such as sporting events and music festivals, should be canceled (39% yes, 39% no). While a plurality support temporary financial help for airlines and other affected industries (42%), just 22% want all domestic flights grounded. More (39%) are in favor of grounding all international flights.

Among all Americans, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the most trusted organization for providing accurate information on the coronavirus outbreak (79%), with The World Health Organization the next most trusted source (71%). Democrats are significantly more likely to trust the World Health Organization (86%) compared to Republicans (64%). About two in five Americans trust the news media to provide accurate information (39%), though Democrats are significantly more likely to trust the news media (56%) than Republicans (23%). On the other hand, Republicans are significantly more likely to trust President Trump (72%) and Vice President Mike Pence (71%) to provide accurate information compared to Democrats (14% and 16%, respectively).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll of which the first wave was conducted between March 10-11, 2020 and the second wave was conducted between April 9-10, 2020, on behalf of USA Today. For this survey, samples of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii were interviewed online in English for both waves.

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, both waves of the poll have 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=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations, 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
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs