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Americans Rapidly Answering the Call to Isolate, Prepare
Politics

Americans Rapidly Answering the Call to Isolate, Prepare

Americans Rapidly Answering the Call to Isolate, Prepare

Story Highlights

  • After limited early adoption, majorities now avoiding routine interactions
  • About half have stocked up on food, medical and household supplies
  • Republicans still lag in social distancing; no differences by age

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the span of a week, Americans have gone from tepid adoption of social distancing to majorities engaging in nearly every major practice advocated by government and health officials as ways to contain community spread of the novel coronavirus. But there is a long way to go to approach full compliance.

Gallup polling conducted March 13-15 and March 16-19 shows the biggest increases in social distancing occurring with those avoiding public places like grocery stores and restaurants (+24 percentage points to 54% doing this) and avoiding small social gatherings (+23 points to 46%).

Majorities last weekend were already avoiding traveling by airplane or mass transit and avoiding events with large crowds out of concern for coronavirus. But with 20-point jumps in these behaviors this week, more than 70% of Americans are now on board with them.

Trend in U.S. Adults' Reports They Are Taking Each Action Out of Concern About Coronavirus
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Change
% % pct. pts.
Avoided going to public places, such as stores or restaurants 30 54 24
Avoided small gatherings of people, such as with family or friends 23 46 23
Avoided traveling by airplane, bus, subway or train 55 75 20
Avoided going to events with large crowds, such as concerts, festivals or sporting events 59 79 20
Canceled or postponed travel plans 39 57 18
Stocked up on food, medical supplies or cleaning supplies 39 52 13
Gallup Panel, 2020

These findings are from a self-administered web survey using the Gallup Panel, a national probability-based panel of U.S. adults, 18 and older.

The trend shows Americans are moving less quickly to stockpile essential supplies, something that could be important in the event a household is quarantined due to illness, or if groceries and other supplies were to become scarce in the coming weeks and months. Just over half of Americans, 52%, say they have stocked up on food, medical or cleaning supplies as a safeguard from coronavirus disruption, up 13 points since the first polling period.

Most Americans who are not already adopting each social distancing measure are at least considering them. However, a quarter are still not considering avoiding small social gatherings, and about one in five are not considering stocking up on supplies.

Actions U.S. Adults Have Taken Out of Concern for Coronavirus
There are some things people may do because of their concern about the coronavirus. For each one of the following, please indicate if this is something you have done, are considering doing, or have not considered.
Have done Considering doing Have not considered
% % %
Avoided going to events with large crowds, such as concerts, festivals or sporting events 79 12 9
Avoided traveling by airplane, bus, subway or train 75 13 13
Canceled or postponed travel plans 57 17 26
Avoided going to public places, such as stores or restaurants 54 30 16
Stocked up on food, medical supplies or cleaning supplies 52 27 21
Avoided small gatherings of people, such as with family or friends 46 28 25
Gallup Panel, Mar 16-19, 2020

Willingness to Comply With Shelter-in-Place Orders Also Grows

California, New York and Illinois are now under orders to stay at home as much as possible except for essential work and shopping activities.

Prior to these developments, about half of Americans (51%), up from 41% over the weekend, described themselves as very likely to comply if public health officials recommend everyone stay home for a month should there be a serious outbreak of coronavirus in their community.

Another 27% said they were somewhat likely to comply, while 23% were somewhat or very unlikely.

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 Change
% % pct. pts.
Very likely 41 51 +10
Somewhat likely 29 27 -2
Somewhat unlikely 14 11 -3
Very unlikely 16 12 -4
Total likely 70 78 +8
Total unlikely 30 23 -7
Gallup Panel, 2020

Despite Increased Distancing, Strong Partisan Differences Persist

The country is approaching universal adherence to avoidance of large crowds and travel, with more than seven in 10 adults of all age groups, all political parties and regions saying they are already eschewing these activities.

More variation is seen at the level of smaller interactions, including staying away from stores and restaurants and foregoing visits with friends and family. While more Americans across the societal spectrum are taking both precautions, women, residents of the Northeast, those living in high population density areas, and Democrats are more likely to be doing so than residents living in other regions, particularly the South and Midwest, in low-density areas, and Republicans.

Percentage of Americans Reporting They Are Avoiding Public Places, Such as Stores and Restaurants
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Change
% % pct. pts.
U.S. adults 30 54 +24
Gender
Men 25 50 +25
Women 35 59 +24
Age
18 to 29 35 57 +22
30 to 59 28 54 +26
60+ 33 54 +21
Region
Northeast 36 65 +29
Midwest 30 52 +22
South 27 48 +21
West 32 57 +25
Party ID
Republicans 21 43 +22
Independents 27 54 +27
Democrats 41 65 +24
Population density
Top quintile (most dense) 41 66 +25
Second quintile 34 62 +28
Third quintile 20 56 +36
Fourth quintile 25 49 +24
Bottom quintile (least dense) 29 42 +13
Gallup Panel, 2020

Perentage of Americans Avoiding Small Gatherings, Such as With Friends and Family
Mar 13-15 Mar 16-19 Change
% % pct. pts.
U.S. adults 23 46 +23
Gender
Men 20 41 +21
Women 26 51 +25
Age
18 to 29 24 45 +21
30 to 59 24 47 +23
60+ 22 46 +24
Region
Northeast 20 56 +36
Midwest 22 45 +23
South 23 42 +19
West 26 47 +21
Party ID
Republicans 12 37 +25
Independents 23 48 +25
Democrats 32 52 +20
Population density
Top quintile (most dense) 30 60 +30
Second quintile 27 49 +22
Third quintile 19 47 +28
Fourth quintile 20 46 +26
Bottom quintile (least dense) 18 33 +15
Gallup Panel, 2020

Spectrum of Behavior Underscores Opportunity for Much More Distancing

Another Gallup Panel question asks respondents to characterize how much they are isolating themselves along a spectrum ranging from complete isolation to no attempt at isolation.

Just 17% say they are completely isolated, having no contact with people outside their household, while another 36% identify as "mostly isolated" -- meaning they are having very little outside contact. The combined 53% of these two responses matches the percentage separately saying they are avoiding public places.

At the other end of the spectrum, 26% describe themselves as isolated only a little or not at all, leaving 21% in the middle who are "partially isolated."

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
%
Completely isolated yourself, having no contact with people outside your household 17
Mostly isolated yourself, having very little contact with people outside your household 36
Partially isolated yourself, having some contact with people outside your household 21
Isolated yourself a little, still having a fair amount of contact with people outside your household 16
Did not make any attempt to isolate yourself from people outside your household 11
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.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/297035/americans-rapidly-answering-call-isolate-prepare.aspx
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