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66% of Americans Remain Worried About Exposure to COVID-19

66% of Americans Remain Worried About Exposure to COVID-19

by Zach Hrynowski

Story Highlights

  • At least 60% of Americans have been "very" or "somewhat" worried since March
  • 37% of black Americans "very worried" about contact with COVID-19
  • Half of Hispanic Americans say they are "very worried" about exposure

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpasses 2 million, Americans' worry about COVID-19 exposure has plateaued over the past month, perhaps in response to a slight downward trend in new cases in May. Still, pluralities of black and Hispanic Americans say they are "very worried" that they or their family will be exposed to the virus.

When Gallup first asked the question in early February, it had been less than two weeks since the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported in the United States on Jan. 22. At that time, 12% of Americans said they were very worried that they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus, and another 24% were somewhat worried. That sentiment more than doubled in the following month, and the very worried measure peaked at 32% in late April. As of June 4, about 3 in 10 Americans remain very worried about coming into contact with the virus, with 66% either very or somewhat worried, a percentage that has remained between 63-67% since mid-March.


Line graph. Americans level of concern about being exposed to coronavirus. In Gallups May 28 to June 4 survey 66 percent of Americans said they were very or somewhat worried a trend that has remained above 63 percent since March 22. 29 percent said they were very worried a result similar to other data collected since March.

At the time of Gallup's most recent survey (May 28-Jun 4), protests in response to the death of George Floyd had just begun to spread across the United States, bringing thousands of people into close proximity with one another. Moreover, all 50 states had announced or begun to implement reopening plans for businesses. While it is too early to assess whether Americans' increased in-person interactions at stores, restaurants or demonstrations will have an impact on the spread of the virus, they do not seem to have affected Americans' concerns about exposure.

Black, Hispanic Americans Notably More Concerned Than White Counterparts

When combining the results of two recent surveys from mid-April and early June to allow a more in-depth look at subgroups, there are modest differences in worry of exposure across gender, age and income groups. The starkest disparities -- particularly among those who are very worried -- appear among racial and ethnic groups: black and Hispanic Americans are much more likely than white respondents to express the highest level of concern that they, or someone in their family, will be exposed to the virus.

Worry About Exposure to COVID-19 Differs Across Race, Political Parties
How worried are you that you or someone in your family will be exposed to coronavirus -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?
Very worried Somewhat worried Not too worried Not worried at all
% % % %
All adults 31 36 20 13
Male 27 37 20 15
Female 34 36 20 11
White 25 39 22 13
Black 37 32 19 11
Hispanic 50 30 11 9
18-29 29 37 22 13
30-49 34 34 18 15
50-64 30 37 20 13
65+ 26 40 22 12
<$40,000 33 34 19 14
$40,000-$99,999 28 38 22 12
$100,000+ 30 39 18 13
Political party
Democrat 42 43 11 4
Independent 31 35 21 13
Republican 15 32 29 23
Data reflect combined results from surveys conducted April 14-28 and May 28-June 4, 2020

Black respondents (37%) are 12-percentage-points more likely to say they are very worried about exposure than those who are white (25%). Half of Hispanic Americans also say they are very worried. This heightened worry among black and Hispanic Americans is in line with CDC findings that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minorities. The gap may also reflect a higher concern among minorities that their family members will be the ones infected: black and Hispanic Americans are much likelier to live in a multigenerational home and may fear passing the virus to their older relatives.

As with many other questions related to COVID-19, there is also a large gap in concern about exposure across political parties. Eighty-five percent of Democrats are at least somewhat worried that they or their family will come into contact with the virus, compared with 47% of Republicans and 66% of independents. Democrats (42%) are also nearly three times as likely as Republicans (15%) to be very worried, and 11 points likelier than independents (31%).

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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