A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the coronavirus outbreak is having profound impacts on the personal lives of Americans in a variety of ways. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way.
About nine-in-ten U.S. adults (91%) say that, given the current situation, they would feel uncomfortable attending a crowded party. Roughly three-quarters (77%) would not want to eat out at a restaurant. In the midst of a presidential election year, about two-thirds (66%) say they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a polling place to vote. And smaller but still substantial shares express discomfort even with going to the grocery store (42%) or visiting with a close friend or family member in their home (38%).
How are people adapting their behavior in light of the outbreak? Four-in-ten working-age adults ages 18 to 64 report having worked from home because of coronavirus concerns – a figure that rises to a majority among working-age adults with college degrees and upper-income earners. Still, despite current circumstances, about two-thirds of adults with children under 12 at home say it’s been at least somewhat easy for them to handle child care responsibilities.
The virus also has impacted Americans’ religious behaviors. More than half of all U.S. adults (55%) say they have prayed for an end to the spread of coronavirus. Large majorities of Americans who pray daily (86%) and of U.S. Christians (73%) have taken to prayer during the outbreak – but so have some who say they seldom or never pray and people who say they do not belong to any religion (15% and 24%, respectively).
Among U.S. adults who said in an earlier survey they attend religious services at least once or twice a month, most (59%) now say they have scaled back their attendance because of the coronavirus – in many cases, presumably because churches and other houses of worship have canceled services. But this does not mean they have disengaged from collective worship entirely: A similar share (57%) reports having watched religious services online or on TV instead of attending in person. Together, four-in-ten regular worshippers appear to have replaced in-person attendance with virtual worship (saying that they have been attending less often but watching online instead).
Other key findings from the survey include:
- Compared with older Americans, young adults are more likely to say they are comfortable going to a crowded party, a restaurant or a small gathering with close family or friends. Still, most adults under 30 say they are uncomfortable eating out at a restaurant (73%) or going to a crowded party (87%). Young adults are more likely than their elders to say they have used a food delivery service due to the outbreak.
- Concerns about public activities and changes to personal lives have been felt more acutely in states with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases. For instance, 51% of those living in highly impacted states say their lives have changed in a major way, compared with 40% of those in states with the lowest numbers of cases.
Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their personal life has changed at least a little bit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with 44% saying their life has changed in a major way. Just 12% say their life has stayed about the same as it was before the outbreak.
Women (47%) are more likely than men (41%) to say their personal life has changed in a major way as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. And while more than four-in-ten white (45%) and Hispanic (47%) adults say this has changed their lives significantly, about a third of black adults (34%) say the same.
Income and education are also linked to assessments of the personal impact of the coronavirus outbreak. More than half of those with higher incomes (54%) say this has changed their life in a major way, compared with 44% of those with middle incomes and 39% of those with lower incomes.2
Similarly, 61% of those with postgraduate degrees, and a narrower majority of those with bachelor’s degrees (54%), say the coronavirus outbreak has changed their life in a major way. By comparison, 43% of those with some college and about a third of those with a high school diploma or less education (35%) say this has happened to them. Across income groups, those with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely than those with less education to say the coronavirus outbreak has changed their life in a major way.
Across age groups, similar shares say the coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on their personal life. For example, 43% of adults younger than 30 say the outbreak has changed their life in a major way, as do 45% of those ages 65 and older.
Among the 33% of Americans who say they or someone in their household has either lost a job or took a pay cut because of the coronavirus outbreak, 54% say their personal life has changed in a major way as a result of the outbreak. This compares with 39% of those who say they have not experienced either of these situations.
About six-in-ten Americans say they would feel comfortable visiting with close friends and family members at their home (62%) and going to the grocery store (57%), given the current coronavirus outbreak. Roughly four-in-ten say they would not be comfortable doing these things (38% and 42%, respectively). Far fewer express comfort in going to a polling place to vote (33%) or eating out in a restaurant (22%), and only about one-in-ten (9%) say they would feel comfortable attending a crowded party.
There are some notable demographic differences in what Americans are comfortable doing during the current outbreak. In particular, younger adults are more likely than older Americans to express comfort with leaving their homes for various reasons. Across all age groups, majorities of Americans say they are uncomfortable eating out in a restaurant; still, about one-quarter of young adults ages 18 to 29 (27%) say they would be comfortable doing this, compared with just 16% of Americans 65 and older. Younger Americans are also more likely to feel comfortable visiting with family and friends: 68% of adults younger than 30 say they’d be comfortable doing this, compared with 60% of Americans ages 30 to 49, 64% of adults ages 50 to 64 and 56% of those 65 and older.
Overall, Americans living in suburban and rural areas are more likely than those living in urban communities to feel comfortable visiting with close friends and relatives. However, Americans living in urban areas are divided depending on how many confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in their state. Those living in urban areas in states with a high number of cases are the least likely to feel comfortable visiting with others (47%) while urban dwellers in states with a medium (56%) or low (67%) number of cases are more likely to feel comfortable going out to visit friends. These differences are not as stark in suburban areas, and there is no difference in comfort with visiting others among Americans in rural communities, regardless of the number of cases in the state.
Amid recommendations for social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, about one-in-five adults (21%) say they have used a food delivery service instead of going to a restaurant or grocery store as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Adults younger than 30 are particularly likely to say they have used a food delivery service because of the coronavirus outbreak: Three-in-ten in this group say they have done this. A quarter of adults ages 30 to 49 also say they have used a food delivery service because of the coronavirus outbreak, while smaller shares of those ages 50 to 64 (15%) and those 65 and older (14%) say the same.
Four-in-ten working-age adults – those ages 18 to 64 – say they have worked from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Men and women in this age group are about equally likely to say they have worked from home.
About three-quarters of working-age adults with a postgraduate degree (73%) say they have worked from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as do 62% of those with a bachelor’s degree. Far smaller shares of working-age adults with some college (35%) or with a high school diploma or less education (22%) say they have worked from home.
Similarly, working-age adults with higher incomes are more likely than those with lower incomes to say they have worked from home because of the coronavirus outbreak: 61% of those in the upper-income tier say they have done this, compared with 41% in the middle-income tier and an even smaller share (27%) of those with lower incomes.
In states with a high number of coronavirus cases, 45% of working-age adults say they have worked from home because of the outbreak; smaller shares in states with a medium or low number of cases say the same (38% each).