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Concern About COVID-19 at Medical Facilities Drops

Concern About COVID-19 at Medical Facilities Drops

Story Highlights

  • 22% "very concerned" about visits to doctor/hospital, down 22 points
  • Men, older adults less concerned than their counterparts about visits
  • Doctor/Hospital visits within past 24 hours doubled in one month to 12%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the national COVID-19 curve has flattened in the U.S., fewer Americans are concerned about being exposed to the virus while receiving necessary medical treatment. Although 64% of Americans are very (22%) or moderately (42%) concerned, this marks a 20-percentage-point drop from late March/early April.

Americans' Concern About Exposure to COVID-19 at Doctor's Office or Hospital Wanes
If you needed medical treatment right now, how concerned would you be about being exposed to coronavirus at a doctor's office or hospital?
Mar 28-Apr 6 May 14-24
% %
Very concerned 44 22
Moderately concerned 40 42
Not too concerned 13 26
Not concerned at all 3 11

The latest data are from an online, probability-based Gallup Panel survey conducted May 14-24. Americans' concern about COVID-19 exposure while getting medical treatment was previously tracked March 28-April 6. Whereas Americans have become much less likely to say they are very concerned between the two field periods, there has been no appreciable change among those who are moderately concerned. At the same time, the percentage of U.S. adults who are not concerned has more than doubled, from 16% to 37%.

Differences in Levels of Concern Among Demographic Subgroups

Although concern about office visits has dropped among all major demographic subgroups, the differences are particularly notable by gender and age -- involving two groups that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Several studies have found that men are dying from COVID-19 in greater numbers than women, yet men are less concerned than women (55% vs. 70%) about the risk of going to a medical office during the pandemic. Likewise, the CDC has been clear that adults 65 and older are at greater risk than those in younger age categories, but older adults are significantly less likely to say they are very concerned about in-person medical visits than those aged 18-64.

Both men and older adults are typically Republican-leaning groups. Gallup has found that the public's views about many aspects of the coronavirus are colored by their party identification, and this measure is similarly affected. Currently, 80% of Democrats but far fewer Republicans, 42%, are concerned about exposure to the virus in a medical office.

Gender, Age Differences in Concern About In-Person Medical Visits During Pandemic
If you needed medical treatment right now, how concerned would you be about being exposed to coronavirus at a doctor's office or hospital?
Very concerned Moderately concerned Not too/Not at all concerned
% % %
Male 16 39 45
Female 26 44 29
18-44 years old 24 43 33
45-64 years old 22 39 39
65 and older 16 43 40
Party identificaton
Republicans 10 32 58
Independents 20 41 39
Democrats 31 49 19
GALLUP PANEL, May 14-24, 2020

Differences in results by two other characteristics -- region and personal health status -- are less surprising than gender and age, but noteworthy nonetheless.

  • New York and New Jersey have more cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other states, and concern about going to a medical office in the Northeast region of the U.S. is higher than in any other region. Seventy-four percent of those in the Northeastern U.S. currently say they are concerned compared with 65% in the West, 61% in the South and 57% in the Midwest.

  • U.S. adults who say they have medical conditions considered high risk for serious complications from the coronavirus are more likely than those who are not to say they are very concerned about visiting a medical office (27% vs. 20%). Another 42% of each group say they are moderately concerned.

Slight Increase in Americans' Self-Reported Medical Office Visits

Americans' use of virtual doctor appointments as a substitute for in-person visits has increased during the pandemic, yet the percentage of U.S. adults who say they have visited a doctor's office, hospital or treatment center has begun to bounce back -- from 6% in mid-April to 12% May 18-24.


Line graph. Americans'; self-reported visits to a doctor's office, hospital or treatment center within the past 24 hours. Gallup's May 18-24 survey found 12% of Americans had visited one of these locations, an increase of six points from one month prior.


Now that the infection curve in the U.S. is flattening and states are re-opening their economies, many medical offices nationwide are encouraging patients with medical needs not related to the coronavirus to come back for care. Getting potentially life-saving vaccinations, screenings and crucial medical care for people with chronic conditions needs to be coupled with staying safe from COVID-19. Americans' concerns about capacity at hospitals have eased, and the use of face masks is up, both of which may be contributing to the public's lessened concern.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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