Monmouth Poll: Americans say COVID-19 is stabilizing

Less Americans now are expressing concern that a family member will contract COVID-19, even with more reporting to know someone personally who had it compared to a month ago, according to a new Monmouth University Poll.

More than 4 in 10 (42%) of Americans are worried that someone in their family will become seriously ill from the coronavirus, down 50% from last month and 38% at the start of the outbreak. Another 28% are somewhat concerned, 14% are not too concerned and 16% are not at all. Concern is even more prevalent in those who know someone who has gotten the virus (40%), up from 26% last month. About 2% of Americans reported having COVID-19, compared to less than 1% in April, and 14% said they have a family member who had it (up from 7% in April).

The West Long Branch-based polling institute also found a decline in those who believe the outbreak has impacted their lives, with racial minority groups showing the opposite, reporting higher levels of prevalence and concern.

By race, white people (12% vs. 5% in April) are less likely than Black, Latino, Asian or other races (23% vs 12% in April) to report that they or someone they know in their family has gotten the coronavirus. Levels of worry are decreasing thee most among whites (34% very concerned vs. 46% in April and 31% in March) than they are among Latinos or other races (55% very concerned vs. 60% in April and 52% in March). By age, those 55+ (44% very concerned vs. 56% in April and 49% in March) and those 35 to 54 years old (42% concerned vs. 52% in April and 38% in March) are experiencing a bigger drop in concern compared to those 18 to 34 years old (39% concerned vs. 42% in April and 27% in March.)

“Concern about COVID seems to have returned to where it was in the early days of the public response to the pandemic in this country,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

The public is split (50% vs. 50%) on its view of the country’s ability to limit the outbreak over the next few weeks, with 16% being very confident, 34% who are somewhat confident, 25% who are not too confident and 25% who are not at all. The confidence levels mirror last months (15% very, 38% somewhat) but are lower than March (25% very, 37% somewhat).

Over the last month, those who have been financially impacted (job loss, furlough, etc.) are experiencing little change. About 56% of Americans reported the outbreak has majorly impacting them personally, down from 62% in April and 53% in late-March. Another 31% said COVID-19 has had a minor impact and 13% said no impact.

“The drop in feeling a major impact may be partly due to the fact that things have stabilized for most families after taking a hit in April,” Murray said.

The percentage of Americans reporting a financial impact due to the pandemic hasn’t changed much over the month. Currently, 40% are reporting lost income (41% in April and 35% in March) and 1 in 5 (23%) are struggling to pay bills (22% in March).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced more than 26% of Americans to work from home for the first time (27% in April, 20% in March). Also, nearly one-fifth (21%) said they are getting groceries delivered, compared to 18% in April and 12% in March.

In terms of layoffs and job losses, 3 in 10 (31%) reported someone in their household has lost work due to the outbreak (30% in April). A job loss salary breakdown is as follows: 39% of those earning less than $50,000, 31% of those earning $50,000 to $100,000, and 24% of those earning above $100,000.

Most Americans are feeling their financial situation is stable (63%), another 23% say they are struggling and 13% say their finances are improving.

“Americans seem to be differentiating between the short term hit and their long term prospects. Most expect that they will be back on their feet once the pandemic has passed, although this number has slipped a bit in the past month,” Murray said.

The public is hopeful that life will return back to normal, with 6 in 10 (63%) believing they will get their lives back after the pandemic (69% in April). Another 28% are somewhat hopeful, with very few as not too (5%) and not at all (2%).

The poll was conducted by phone from April 30 to May 4 with 808 adults in the United States.  The margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. 

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