After President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, coronavirus concern and stress among Americans grew.
CivicScience observed grave concern about being in public spaces (‘very concerned’) notably increasing over the past week (from 38% to 45%).
With concern about being in public on the rise, Americans also show a spike in their expectations for how much longer they’ll have to practice social distancing and self-isolation. Those who predict that this will last six or more months ticked up to 48% of all adults; a high point we haven’t seen since July.
Along with the concern about going out in public and the increased mindset that social distancing will be here for a while, CivicScience observed in the most recent data that Americans’ comfort shopping in (non-grocery) stores decreased. Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults surveyed report comfort shopping in stores, down from 60% the week prior. This likely is related to not only the White House outbreak but the growing number of cases across the country. You can, at the time of this writing, count on one hand the number of states in which positive cases are declining (two).
Also observed was a decline in comfort traveling and returning to work.
Surprisingly, comfort dining at restaurants continues to grow, reiterating that Americans just want to enjoy themselves again with a familiar pastime.
This theme of a desire to return to normalcy, although again somewhat surprising, is evident in the latest data about public events too. Comfort attending large events increased from last week. Again, considering the White House outbreak spawned from a large event, this is pretty counterintuitive. But hey, people miss normal. Just last week Broadway announced the show will not go on, at least until May of 2021, so people may have to wait a bit longer in some cases to attend certain events.
In addition to the President’s own COVID-19 diagnosis that made some consumers nervous, was also his decision to halt stimulus talks prior to Election Day. Though this was soon reversed and optimism has returned somewhat, at least at the time of this writing, Americans, and Wall Street took note of the potential for further financial turmoil without a stimulus deal soon.
The percentage of people concerned about their current employment situation ticked up substantially for the first time in a while, almost to August’s numbers.
So too did the percentage of Americans who say now is a ‘bad’ time to make a major purchase.
Not only that, but a slightly higher percentage of respondents report they anticipate things will ‘get worse’ six months from now (32% versus 29% the week before). Are Americans heading back in the direction of more pessimism regarding the future state of the economy six months from now? It appears that way at least this week.
General Well-Being Takes a Hit
This isn’t all about wallets and dining out. Well-being has taken a recent hit week over week in more than one way.
The most evidence of this is in CivicScience data tracking overall stress among American adults since March. While it’s been all across the map – and not nearly as high as it was back in late March – stress felt by adults upticked a significant amount week over week. While 50% said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ strongly stressed in the past week (reported the week of 9/27), that shot up to 57% the week of October 4th.
Feelings of worry are also on an upward trajectory since the week of September 27th, but not as stark as feelings of stress. What’s most notable about this is, during the week of September 27th, those who weren’t feeling too worried had finally eclipsed those who were feeling worried for the first time in the past six months. It went right up again the week of October 4th.
The updates to these news stories happen at least daily, if not hourly, and it’s clear from the data that they are embedded in the psyche of American adults. From worry about catching the virus themselves to not knowing how stable their jobs are, Americans are worried with no real end in sight.