The coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) has taken the world by storm, originating in China and spreading rapidly across continents. China alerted the WHO on the 31st of December 2019 about an unknown virus causing unusual pneumonia among the residents of Wuhan, a port city in the central Hubei province.
The first case of coronavirus in the US was detected on February 21st, 2020, and within three weeks, that number crossed the 1300 mark. Experts suggest that the numbers could be much higher as many people who come in contact with the virus do not even show symptoms in the early stages. 38 deaths have been recorded in the USA as of the 12th of March. The states of Washington, New York, and California were most affected by the virus, with nearly 60% of the cases recorded in these three states alone.
How did American citizens react to the pandemic?
We wanted to know what the average American citizen felt about the coronavirus outbreak and we went around (well not literally) asking them some questions. We used our QuestionPro online panel that is distributed across demographics and geographies and a good representation of the American population for the study.
- ‘Personal health’, while still a worry among most people, is not the primary worry for citizens. Matters like the health of others, the economy, and the supply of drugs/medication from virus-infected areas are bigger concerns.
- 64% of the population said they check for news updates at least once a day, if not multiple times daily, and, four out of five Americans (80%) check for news updates every 2-3 days.
- People’s primary source of information is television, with 63% of the people absorbing information through TV. Social media is the go-to source for half the population and other online articles too are read by 43% of the citizens. Sadly though, only 1 in every 4 persons checks health websites for information and news.
- Those who watch TV daily worry the most compared to those who consume news through other channels two-three times a week. Personal health remains the least of their worries, while they have a higher concern for the global economy.
- Prior to the outbreak, the people’s optimism/pessimism levels were the same between the national and global economy. Though there is slightly more polarization towards the national economy (less neutrality), the worry now is slightly higher towards the global economy than it is towards the national economy.
- 62% say they are either fairly worried or highly worried about potential misinformation that could come from any news source about the outbreak. 95% of the citizens who watch TV daily have at least some fear of being misinformed about the virus.
Find trusted sources for news
The coronavirus outbreak must not cause unnecessary fear among citizens. Stay away from fake news. It’s advisable to use trustworthy news sources to get yourself some right information. 81% of the cases reported are mild cases. 14% account for severe cases where the infected people complain of shortness of breath and require supplemental oxygen. Under 5% of the cases are considered critical where patients face multi-organ failure, respiratory failure or septic shock. Only 2.3% of the infected patients fall prey to the virus.
Elderly or people having underlying health conditions are at the risk of contracting serious complications. While there is no need to panic, citizens must prepare for, and protect themselves and others against the virus.
In our effort to gauge how this pandemic has effected Americans, we will continue to keep a close eye out on this and publish relevant research. Keep an eye out for more insights about COVID-19 that we will have coming your way.