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In U.S., More Fear COVID-19 Illness Than Financial Harm
Politics

In U.S., More Fear COVID-19 Illness Than Financial Harm

In U.S., More Fear COVID-19 Illness Than Financial Harm

Story Highlights

  • The majority of Americans (57%) are worried about getting COVID-19
  • Just shy of half, 48%, fear severe financial hardship befalling them
  • Partisanship strongly colors both concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the country endures an unprecedented shutdown of public life to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, more Americans are worried about contracting the illness (57%) than about experiencing severe financial problems from the disruption caused by it (48%).

Bar chart. The degree to which Americans are worried about getting the coronavirus and experiencing severe financial hardship.

While most of those who are worried about each of these possibilities say they are only "somewhat worried," slightly more are "very worried" about encountering financial hardship (17%) than getting the virus (12%).

These findings are based on a probability-based sample of 2,448 U.S. adults from the Gallup Panel, interviewed by web April 10-12, 2020.

An analysis of how individual respondents answer both questions finds about a third of Americans are worried to some degree about suffering both types of harm, while 28% are not worried about either. Of those worried about just one aspect, more are focused on getting the virus (23%) than on experiencing severe financial hardship (15%).

Women, City Residents, Younger Adults Most Fear Illness

This pattern of greater worry about getting COVID-19 than facing financial hardship is seen across most societal subgroups. But the level of worry about each problem varies in the following ways:

  • Women, adults aged 18 to 34 and city residents are more likely than their counterparts (men, older adults, and rural and suburban residents) to say they are worried about each possibility.

  • Low-income adults (61%) are more likely than middle- (52%) and higher-income (42%) adults to say they are worried about experiencing financial hardship. They are also more concerned about contracting the illness.

There are no meaningful differences on these measures between whites and nonwhites or by educational level.

Worry About Getting COVID-19 vs. Financial Hardship, Among Demographic Subgroups
% Very/Somewhat worried about each as a result of the coronavirus or the disruption caused by it
Getting COVID-19 Experiencing severe
financial hardship
% %
U.S. adults 57 48
Gender
Men 50 45
Women 64 52
Age
18 to 34 64 55
35 to 54 53 55
55 and older 55 40
Household income
$90,000 or more 53 42
$36,000 to $89,999 56 52
Less than $36,000 69 61
Type of community
City 70 56
Suburb 56 47
Small town/Rural area 50 47
Gallup Panel, April 10-12, 2020

Democrats Twice as Worried as Republicans About Falling Ill

Notably, Republicans and independents are distinct from other subgroups in that they are not more concerned about getting COVID-19 than experiencing financial hardship.

  • Independents express similar levels of concern about their future finances and falling ill.

  • Republicans also express similar levels of concern about the two risks, but are notably less concerned about each than are both independents and Democrats.

  • Democrats, meanwhile, are twice as likely as Republicans to be worried about getting COVID-19, and are significantly more worried about experiencing financial hardship.

Worry About Getting COVID-19 vs. Financial Hardship, by Party ID
% Very/Somewhat worried about each as a result of the coronavirus or the disruption caused by it
Getting COVID-19 Experiencing
financial hardship
% %
U.S. adults 57 48
Party ID
Republicans 36 34
Independents 55 60
Democrats 73 54
Gallup Panel, April 10-12, 2020

Adults With Certain Diseases Are Most Anxious About COVID-19

Consistent with the medical guidance about who is most at risk of experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19, those who report in the survey that they have ever been diagnosed with chronic lung problems or asthma, or are immune-compromised, are especially worried about the possibility of contracting the illness.

Those who have had cancer are slightly more likely than average Americans to be worried about falling ill, while those who smoke or have diabetes, hypertension or heart disease are similar to the national average.

Worry About Getting COVID-19 vs. Financial Hardship, by Health Status
% Very/Somewhat worried about each as a result of the coronavirus or the disruption caused by it
Getting COVID-19 Experiencing
financial hardship
% %
U.S. adults 57 48
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or other chronic lung disease 78 44
Asthma 71 45
Immune-compromised 71 65
Cancer 65 37
Smoke 61 61
Diabetes 58 48
Hypertension/High blood pressure 57 45
Heart disease 53 49
Results are based on more than 100 respondents in each health condition group; results for those with kidney disease are not shown due to low sample size.
Gallup Panel, April 10-12, 2020

Bottom Line

Since the implementation of mass social distancing last month, which has routed the U.S. economy, most Americans have perceived that the country is in a recession or even depression, but thus far it's the minority who have reported that their own personal finances have suffered. Recent analysis of Gallup Panel data finds that 19% of U.S. adults have experienced job loss or reduced hours since the crisis started, and 15% of all employed adults say that recent cost-reduction measures at work have had a major impact on their finances.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans are engaged in extreme social distancing and express hesitance about returning to their normal routines anytime soon, preferring to wait until there is minimal risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Within this context, it is understandable that more Americans say they are worried about getting COVID-19 than fear experiencing severe financial hardship stemming from the disruption to society. This mindset may continue while thousands of new cases and associated deaths occur each day, but it could change as the disease comes under better control and the economic fallout is more apparent.

Such a shift in Americans' mindset could be one inflection point policymakers are looking for to determine when to start lifting restrictions and getting Americans back to something like "normal."

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/308504/fear-covid-illness-financial-harm.aspx
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