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Americans Step Up Their Social Distancing Even Further
Gallup Blog

Americans Step Up Their Social Distancing Even Further

Americans Step Up Their Social Distancing Even Further

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans this past weekend stepped up their already considerable efforts to engage in social distancing in response to the novel coronavirus. Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults now say they are avoiding public places like stores and restaurants, well ahead of the 54% reporting this last week. Nearly as many (68%) are forgoing small gatherings of friends and family, up from 46%.

These shifts are notable because they suggest that the unprecedented efforts by federal, state, local and private-sector leaders to get the public's attention -- a combination of formal closures of transportation, schools, and workplaces, as well as public appeals for voluntary efforts -- are working.

Even larger percentages of Americans are avoiding events with large crowds (92%) and are staying away from air travel or mass transit (87%). Most Americans were already avoiding these activities last week as businesses en masse began shuttering their doors, and widespread government and corporate travel bans took hold.

Trend in U.S. Adults' Reports They Are Taking Each Action Because of Coronavirus
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Mar 20-22
% % %
Avoided going to events with large crowds, such as concerts, festivals or sporting events 59 79 92
Avoided traveling by airplane, bus, subway or train 55 75 87
Canceled or postponed travel plans 39 57 73
Avoided going to public places, such as stores or restaurants 30 54 72
Avoided small gatherings of people, such as with family or friends 23 46 68
Stocked up on food, medical supplies or cleaning supplies 39 52 59
Gallup Panel, 2020

These findings are based on polling conducted by web using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel of U.S. adults, aged 18 and older. Gallup has been tracking Americans' social distancing practices nightly on the Gallup Panel since March 13, and is reporting the findings in multiday averages.

Specifically, the question asks whether respondents are engaging in each of five social distancing practices as well as stocking up, and whether they are considering doing each. The vast majority of Americans are at least considering doing each practice.

The biggest shift between the latest results, from March 20-22, and the prior report, based on March 16-19 interviewing, has been in the percentage of Americans avoiding small gatherings of people. This has risen 22 percentage points since last Monday-Thursday.

Percentage of Americans Avoiding Small Gatherings, Such as With Friends and Family
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Mar 20-22
% % %
U.S. adults 23 46 68
Gender
Men 20 41 64
Women 26 51 73
Age
18 to 29 24 45 72
30 to 59 24 47 69
60+ 22 46 67
Region
East 20 56 75
Midwest 22 45 67
South 23 42 64
West 26 47 71
Party ID
Republicans 12 37 56
Independents 23 48 68
Democrats 32 52 78
Population Density
Top quintile (Most dense) 30 60 77
Second quintile 27 49 69
Third quintile 19 47 73
Fourth quintile 20 46 62
Bottom quintile (Least dense) 18 33 59
Gallup Panel, 2020

Americans' aversion to visiting public places like stores and restaurants is up strongly among all major societal subgroups.

Percentage of Americans Reporting They Are Avoiding Public Places, Such as Stores and Restaurants
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Mar 20-22
% % %
U.S. adults 30 54 72
Gender
Men 25 50 69
Women 35 59 74
Age
18 to 29 35 57 74
30 to 59 28 54 70
60+ 33 54 73
Region
East 36 65 75
Midwest 30 52 72
South 27 48 69
West 32 57 74
Party ID
Republicans 21 43 61
Independents 27 54 71
Democrats 41 65 80
Population Density
Top quintile (Most dense) 41 66 75
Second quintile 34 62 72
Third quintile 20 56 77
Fourth quintile 25 49 68
Bottom quintile (Least dense) 29 42 65
Gallup Panel, 2020

There has been less movement on a different measure -- Americans' willingness to remain in their homes for 30 days, should they be asked to do so in the event of a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in their community. Fifty-eight percent now say they are "very likely" to comply, up from 51% last week.

Americans' Likelihood of Complying With Shelter-in-Place Recommendations
If public health officials recommended that everyone stay at home for a month because of a serious outbreak of coronavirus in your community, how likely are you to stay home for a month?
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Mar 20-22
% % %
Very likely 41 51 58
Somewhat likely 29 27 24
Somewhat unlikely 14 11 9
Very unlikely 16 12 9
Total likely 70 78 82
Total unlikely 30 23 18
Gallup Panel, 2020

Two-Thirds Report Completely or Mostly Isolating Themselves

Asked to characterize their social distancing overall on a five-point scale, 20% now say they are "completely" isolating themselves from nonhousehold members, up slightly from 17% last Monday-Thursday. A combined 64%, up from 53%, report completely or "mostly" isolating themselves. Meanwhile, the percentage making no effort or isolating themselves "a little" is down by about half, from 27% to 14%.

Social Distancing Spectrum
Thinking about everything you've done in the past 24 hours, which of the following comes closest to describing your in-person contact with people outside your household?
Mar 16-19 Mar 20-22
% %
Completely isolated yourself, having no contact with people outside your household 17 20
Mostly isolated yourself, having very little contact with people outside your household 36 44
Partially isolated yourself, having some contact with people outside your household 21 22
Isolated yourself a little, still having a fair amount of contact with people outside your household 16 10
Did not make any attempt to isolate yourself from people outside your household 11 4
Gallup Panel, 2020

Gallup will continue to monitor and report these measures frequently on news.Gallup.com in the coming days.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

Lydia Saad is a Senior Editor at Gallup.


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