You might imagine that COVID-19 concern in the U.S. has skyrocketed, right along with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This is a grim time for the country as we approach more holidays and a long winter. New CivicScience data reveal that the response from consumers is a bit more nuanced than that, albeit concern existing.
CivicScience data has shown an increasing progression over time of the percentage of Americans who know someone, either in their household or not, who was diagnosed with COVID-19. As of this writing, more adults than ever (62% in total) have personally been diagnosed or know someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
However, according to further supporting data, Americans seem to have let their guard down about the virus a bit as of the most recent week, at least with their concerns about going out and expectations for the near future.
While more than 8 in 10 adults are still expressing concern about being in public spaces right now, extreme concern (the percentage of those ‘very concerned’) has decreased this week.
While the new data show that roughly 4 in 10 adults still expect to have to practice social distancing for six months or more, this remains significantly lower than what we observed a few weeks ago before the news of an impending vaccine was reported.
Now, more people think social distancing will have to continue anywhere from two to six months. However, this view may be a bit optimistic as distribution of the vaccine, not to mention gaining buy-in from the public, will take time.
While outlook about being out-and-about and the prospect of not social distancing growing a bit rosier in the most recent week of data, other things don’t look as great for certain industries.
With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s stark but not a shock to see comfort traveling hit the lowest mark we’ve seen in months.
Among typical holiday travelers (those who usually travel for the holidays), just above a quarter still plan to travel this year.
To put this in perspective among the entire population, only 10% of American adults surveyed plan to travel by airplane in the next month, and 14% by another transport method. That means that 76% of Americans do not plan to travel, at least as of the week of November 29th.
And what about holiday meals out with friends and family? It looks grim as of the new numbers. Comfort going out to eat has now reached the lowest point we’ve seen since mid-July. A mere 30% of U.S. adults report they are comfortable dining out right now.
Plus, fewer adults than we’ve seen to date (since CivicScience began tracking intent) have plans to dine in or order takeout from a restaurant in the next week. Forty-six percent say they will not get food from a restaurant in the next seven days.
While the CDC is urging Americans to limit who and how many people they’re congregating indoors with this holiday, the number of people who plan to do so for Christmas has only increased since the week before Thanksgiving. However, more people don’t plan to do so than those who do (39% vs. 31%).
Those who ‘definitely’ expect to celebrate Christmas in-person with friends and family over-index as not knowing someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. However, it’s worth noting the flipside that of those people who definitely will congregate, 43% of them do know someone.
Overall, when it comes to how the population expects the pandemic to alter their holiday plans at large, it hasn’t shifted too much over the past few weeks. The majority of people (46%) have resolved themselves to the fact that their plans will be impacted a lot.
You could look at the holidays two ways this year: what you are missing out on, or what you can do to make the most of a holiday during the first global pandemic in a century. Hey, we’re not telling you what to feel, but it appears the population is pretty split with those two mentalities.
About 42% are looking forward to the holidays just as much as they usually would in the Before Time, while another 45% are looking forward to them less.
Or, we suppose, there’s a third option: going all out and enjoying the holidays more this year, as it’s all we’ve got right now. A mere 12% are looking forward to this holiday more than usual.
Those who are looking forward to the holidays about the same or more than usual are more likely to still be working than those who are looking forward to them less. What’s also interesting is those who are looking forward to the holidays less are more likely than their counterparts to be working from home.
While this holiday will be unlike any other, there are certainly a slew of factors that go into account. With the pandemic projected to only get worse as the weeks go on, CivicScience will continue to monitor our tracking questions and report out on weekly changes.