COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been setting records for the past several weeks. Within the past week alone, the U.S. has seen an alarmingly high average of over 210,000 new cases per day – up 30% from two weeks prior. News of a vaccine rollout beginning in the U.S. (for some of the more vulnerable groups) is likely responsible for the shift in expectations among the general public with regards to how long they will need to practice social distancing and self-isolation. Most recent data show that only 31% of U.S. adults expect social distancing and self-isolation practices to last for at least six months – the lowest percentage observed since mid-June

Speaking of the vaccine – an increasing percentage of people (43%) have reported they plan to receive it once it becomes available to them. This is the highest percentage observed since CivicScience began tracking intent among Americans in early October.

While the promise of a vaccine seems to have contributed to longer-term optimism, comfort resuming normal activities right now remains low, reflecting similar levels observed among Americans in the early summer. Comfort shopping in stores experienced a steep decline this week; only one-third of U.S. adults say they’re comfortable shopping for non-grocery items in store this week. For the first time since CivicScience began tracking, the percentage of those saying they’d be comfortable in six months or more is trending to eclipse the percentage of those saying they’re comfortable shopping now.

Americans are also becoming less comfortable with the idea of dining out right now. Also, only about one-third of consumers say they’re comfortable going to a restaurant right now. Similar to in-store shopping, the percentage of those saying they’d be comfortable in six months or more is beginning to eclipse the percentage of those who feel safe dining out now.

Returning to the Workplace 

Along with these two major decreases, people are becoming increasingly less comfortable returning to their work environment, reaching the lowest point observed since July. 

Not only are people less comfortable, but an increasing percentage report being “very concerned” about their employment situation as of this week.

As the pandemic proliferates, it makes sense that job status and financial situations have become more unpredictable. Based on what CivicScience has been tracking, it’s apparent that those who have been employed by larger companies (with 5,000 or more employees) are the MOST likely to report hardships with their job and income.

And laborers have overwhelmingly been the most negatively affected by the pandemic in terms of their employment status and income.

In the U.S., those with college degrees are more likely to say they have been able to maintain their jobs and income, but those without a degree are more likely to have been negatively impacted by the pandemic — especially those without a high school diploma or a GED. 

The trauma and grief that the pandemic and its side effects continue to bring are undoubtedly taking a toll on individuals – but it’s worse for some. Those who have lost their jobs or had their pay reduced because of the pandemic are understandably feeling the impact emotionally. They’re more likely to be sad, stressed, and/or worried right now, and less likely to feel joy compared to their counterparts who are still employed or who can count on their usual income. 

On top of it all, the same group is the most pessimistic about their future job prospects as well.

Despite the generally grim outlook right now, there is also a notion of optimism due to the progression of the coronavirus vaccine. Want to stay up to date with CivicScience’s weekly COVID-19 Impact Report? Sign up to receive the latest insights and up-to-the-minute data here.