skip to main content
Americans Still Social Distancing, but Less Vigilant

Americans Still Social Distancing, but Less Vigilant

Story Highlights

  • Vast majority still avoiding mass transit and small social gatherings
  • Slightly fewer are "always" social distancing, or strictly self-isolating
  • Three in four are now wearing masks outside the home

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The vast majority of Americans continue to say they are avoiding social interactions, retail outings and mass transportation, with little reduction in the percentages reporting these behaviors since they peaked three weeks ago. However, Americans' vigilance in adhering to social distancing guidelines may be waning. Fewer say they are completely or mostly isolating themselves than did so three weeks ago, and the percentage who say they have been "always" practicing social distancing over the previous 24 hours has slipped.

The following trends are based on weekly averages of interviews with large samples of U.S. adults collected daily via web using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based nationally representative panel.

Most Still Avoiding Social Situations, Generally

At least three-quarters of Americans say they have done each of the following in the past seven days, all down slightly but still close to their March 30-April 5 highs in Gallup interviewing.

  • 86% have avoided air travel and mass transit
  • 80% have avoided small gatherings of people, such as with friends and family
  • 75% have avoided going to public places, such as stores or restaurants
Line graph. Weekly averages since mid-March for percentage of Americans engaged in three specific social distancing practices.

Additionally, 75% of Americans now report they have worn a mask on their face when outside their home. This is up from 64% the prior week and 51% in Gallup's first measurement, based on April 6-12 interviewing. After mixed discussion nationally on the advisability of non-essential workers' use of face masks, on April 3 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended that nearly all Americans wear cloth face masks in public settings where they are unable to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Americans Observing Social Distancing Less Frequently

Several states have begun relaxing their social distancing guidelines on a gradual basis, while others have extended shelter-in-place requirements into May. In the latest week, 59% of Americans report that in the past 24 hours they have "always" practiced social distancing. This is similar to 60% the prior week but down from the 65% reporting this April 6-12. The percentage distancing "very often" has not changed much, now at 29%, but the percentage adhering less frequently has increased from 7% to 12%.

Line graph. Weekly averages since mid-March for Americans’ frequency of practicing social distancing in past 24 hours.

Intensity of Adherence Also Slips

At their most observant, 75% of Americans reported they were completely or mostly isolating themselves from all nonhousehold members, but that slipped to just under 70% in mid-April and remains at about that level in the latest reading.

Line graph. Weekly averages since mid-March for percentages of Americans isolating themselves completely to not at all.

Republicans Ease Off Social Distancing More Than Other Party Groups

All three partisan groups in the U.S. are keeping up slightly less with social distancing than they were in the recent past, but Republicans' adherence has slipped the most. This is seen across all social distancing measures in the Gallup survey.

By way of example, the percentage "always" social distancing has fallen four points to 69% since April 6-12 among Democrats, four points to 59% among independents, and nine points to 46% among Republicans.

Line graph. Weekly averages since mid-March for percentages of Americans “always” social distancing, by party ID.

A similar pattern is seen in the percentages by party who are "completely" or "mostly" isolating themselves from nonhousehold members. While Democrats' adherence to social distancing on this measure hasn't declined, currently 80%, independents' has fallen three points from its high point to 69%, and Republicans', 16 points to 53%.

Line graph. Weekly averages since mid-March for percentage of Americans “completely/mostly” isolating themselves, by party ID.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030