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​Worries about the Coronavirus Increase

As their concern increases, Americans report taking recommended actions to avoid coronavirus, according to the AP-NORC Poll conducted in March 2020. 

​As the scope of the global outbreak of COVID-19 continues to grow, along with intensifying efforts to stem its progress in the United States, Americans are becoming more worried about a possible infection from the new coronavirus.  They report compliance with recommendations to curb the spread of the virus including increased handwashing, avoiding crowds, and resisting touching their face.  

Most Americans over age 30 are looking toward traditional news sources for information about the coronavirus, while 24% of young people are relying on social media.  Of those who have domestic or international travel plans, 55% have canceled or are considering calling off their trip.  

Two-thirds of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about someone in their family contracting the coronavirus, up from 45% in February.  At that time, more Americans were at least somewhat concerned about a family member coming down with the flu. 


Although older people are particularly vulnerable to complications from a coronavirus infection, younger people are more concerned about someone in their family contracting COVID-19.  Democrats and independents are more worried about the prospect of becoming infected with the new coronavirus than are Republicans. 


Most people say they wash their hands more frequently, avoid touching their face, and steer clear of crowds.  Fewer say they are stocking up on food or cleaning supplies, or consulting with a health care provider. Only 7 percent are taking no actions in response to the virus.  


Most Americans had no plans to travel over the next three months.  Of those who planned to travel within the United States, about half still expect to travel, while the other half are either thinking about canceling or have already done so. Very few had international travel planned, and most of them are considering calling off their trip or have already canceled.


Most Americans over 30 are looking toward traditional news sources for information about the coronavirus.  Only 38% of those age 18-29 get information about the virus from traditional news, and 24% use social media. Among employed adults, 4% get most of their information from their employer.   


The nationwide poll was conducted March 12-16, 2020 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,003 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.