More Americans are getting the message that the coronavirus pandemic is serious — and are increasingly taking action.
In a new Gallup poll conducted both from March 13-15, and later on March 16-19, data showed that more U.S. adults are engaging in every major practice advocated by government and health officials to protect against the coronavirus. While researchers in the poll say there is still a long way to go to get to full compliance, the results show that, in just a week, more Americans have gone from tepidly social distancing to seriously heeding advice to quell the outbreak.
The survey results for March 13-15 were derived from interviews with 3,078 U.S. adults. Based on self-administered online surveys conducted between March 16-18, researchers tested a random sample of 4,342 U.S. adults who were also members of the Gallup Panel.
Gallup’s polling showed universal increases in the percentage of respondents who reported practicing social distancing methods between the first week of the survey and the second.
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For instance, when asked during the first week if they had avoided public places — such as grocery stores — only 30 percent of the surveyed sample reported engaging in these behaviors.
By the second week, 54 percent of respondents said they were actively avoiding the same stores and public spaces — an increase of 24 percentage points. The same trend was observed when researchers asked respondents if they had:
-Avoided going to public places, such as stores or restaurants
-Avoided small gatherings of people, such as with family or friends
-Avoided traveling by airplane, bus, subway or train
-Avoided going to events with large crowds, such as concerts, festivals or sporting events
-Canceled or postponed travel plans
-Stocked up on food, medical supplies or cleaning supplies
On average, these categories posted an increase of 19.7 percentage points from the first week to the second week. The trend shows that Americans are moving less quickly to stockpile essential supplies, Gallup says. But this could be because many Americans have already been preparing — 52 percent say they have stocked up on food, medical or cleaning supplies as a safeguard from coronavirus disruptions. This is up 13 points since the first polling period, Gallup says.
Additionally, more Americans are reporting willingness to comply with shelter-in-place recommendations, a 10 percentage point increase from the first week to the second week. This may be due to legal consequences if they do not obey shelter-in-place orders.
Overall, more U.S. adults are taking more preventative social distancing measures, but demographic differences persist.
Slightly more women are more likely to avoid public places than men, with 35 percent of women initially practicing social distancing as opposed to 25 percent of men. During the second week, Gallup noted that 50 percent of male respondents said they were taking more exhaustive quarantine measures, compared to a stronger 59 percent of female respondents.
When avoiding small gatherings of family and friends, women are also more likely to opt for social distancing, while less men appear to be taking that precaution.
There is little distinction in self-isolation efforts across age groups. In fact, the highest age demographic practicing avoiding public locations is ages 18-29, with 57 percent self-isolating from March 16-19 data.
In comparison, 54 percent of both age groups representing people between ages 30 to 59 and over 60 report socially isolating in the second survey. Older adults are more vulnerable to suffering a severe case of COVID-19.