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Assessment of U.S. COVID-19 Situation Increasingly Bleak
Politics

Assessment of U.S. COVID-19 Situation Increasingly Bleak

Assessment of U.S. COVID-19 Situation Increasingly Bleak

Story Highlights

  • 65% say the situation is getting worse, the highest in Gallup's trend
  • Sharp increase in those expecting situation to persist through 2020
  • More Americans are worried about getting the disease

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As coronavirus infections are spiking in U.S. states that previously had not been hard-hit, a new high of 65% of U.S. adults say the coronavirus situation is getting worse. The percentage of Americans who believe the situation is getting worse has increased from 48% the preceding week, and from 37% two weeks prior.

Line graph. A new high of 65% of US adults say the coronavirus situation in the U.S. is getting worse. 23% say it is getting better.

The latest results, from June 22-28, are based on Gallup's online COVID-19 tracking survey, which interviews weekly random samples from Gallup's probability-based panel. Last week, governors in many states paused or rolled back plans to ease restrictions on economic activity as states in the South and West dealt with a surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Gallup first asked Americans in early April to say whether they thought the coronavirus situation was getting better or worse. At that time, 56% said it was getting worse and 28% better, the most negative assessment prior to the latest reading. From late April through early June, there were several weeks in which more Americans said the situation was getting better than getting worse.

Today, there is widespread agreement among Americans in all parts of the country that the situation is getting worse. Between 62% and 68% of those living in the four major regions of the U.S. say it is worsening. These rates represent heightened concern over the prior week in all four regions, including increases of 13 percentage points for those living in the South and Midwest, 19 points for those in the West and 22 points for those in the Northeast.

Additionally, all major party groups are more inclined than they were the previous week to see the situation as getting worse, including an eight-point increase among Republicans, 18 points among independents and 15 points among Democrats. But the partisan gap remains vast, as 90% of Democrats, 63% of independents and 28% of Republicans believe the situation is getting worse. A majority of Republicans, 54%, say the situation is getting better.

Vast Majority Now Expect Protracted Disruption

Americans' greater pessimism is also apparent in the 74% who expect the level of disruption to travel, school, work and public events in the U.S. to persist through the end of this year (37%) or beyond that (37%). This represents a 10-point increase from the prior week in the percentage of U.S. adults who think the coronavirus situation will last at least until the end of the year. In early May, less than half of Americans expected the situation to last that long.

Line graph. Nearly three quarters of Americans expect the disruption brought about the coronavirus will last until the end of the year or longer than that. Nineteen percent believe it will last a few more months and 7% say it will last a few more weeks.

Ninety percent of Democrats, 75% of independents and 48% of Republicans expect disruptions to continue through the end of the year or longer.

Americans Increasingly Worried About Catching Virus

The percentage of Americans who say they are very or somewhat worried about getting the coronavirus has increased from 48% to 56%, a level not seen since late April. It is also one point off the trend's record high of 57%, registered in the initial measurement the week of April 6-12.

A majority of 56% of Americans are worried about getting the coronavirus.

Worry about getting the virus has increased most among Northeastern residents (up 19 points, to 60%) and Western residents (up 15 points, to 58%), with little change among those living in the Midwest or South.

Democrats (74%) remain far more worried about getting COVID-19 than independents (50%) or Republicans (30%) -- but Republicans show the greatest increase in worry compared with the prior week, up from 22%.

Americans More Cautious About Returning to Normal

The poll also finds a significant increase in the percentage of Americans who say the better advice for healthy people is to stay home as much as possible. Seventy-two percent now hold this view, up from 66% the previous week. This is the first time since the initial measurement of this question in late March -- during the initial surge in U.S. cases -- that there has been a meaningful increase in the percentage who say it is better for healthy people to stay home. Still, it remains lower than the 91% who advocated that course of action in March.

Twenty-eight percent now hold the opposing view -- that it is better for healthy people to lead their normal lives as much as possible to avoid interruptions to work and business.

Line graph. Seventy-two percent of Americans, up from 66%, a week ago, say the better advice for healthy people is to stay home as much as possible. Twenty eight percent say the better advice is to for healthy people to lead their normal lives as much as possible.

Relatedly, fewer Americans now (25%) than the prior week (32%) say they would resume their normal day-to-day activities "right now" if it were up to them. About the same percentage, 26%, now say they would resume their normal activities after the number of cases in their state declines significantly. This leaves about half of Americans indicating they would be more cautious about returning to normal -- with 30% saying they would do so when there are no new cases in their state, and 19% waiting for the development of a vaccine.

Implications

Americans may dispute whether the recent increase in new daily coronavirus cases represents a continuation of the first wave or the start of a second wave of infections -- but there is a growing public consensus that the situation is getting worse. An increase in new daily cases was not unexpected as business restrictions were eased, but the size of the increase in states like California, Texas, Florida and Arizona has caused governors there to rethink the pace of loosening those restrictions, if not reverse course on some of them.

The recent developments are a grim reminder that even as the number of new daily cases declined in recent months, the virus never went away. Consequently, Americans are increasingly likely to think the disruptions to daily life will persist in the U.S. through at least the end of this year.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/313415/assessment-covid-situation-increasingly-bleak.aspx
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