Close Close

COVID-19 Impact on Daily Life Heightens


Many report increased stress, layoffs, shortages, loneliness

West Long Branch, NJ – The number of Americans who say the COVID-19 outbreak has had a major impact on their lives has risen by 9 points in the past three weeks, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. Half report dealing with shortages of supplies and food, 4 in 10 have suffered a loss in income, and 1 in 4 are feeling lonelier. About 1 in 14 Americans say that someone in their family has gotten the coronavirus, with a higher prevalence among racial minority groups. Still, the vast majority of the public is hopeful that life will return to normal once the current emergency passes.

Half the public (50%) is very concerned about someone in their family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus, which is up from 38% who were very concerned just three weeks ago. Another 33% are somewhat concerned, 9% are not too concerned and 7% are not at all concerned. While all demographic groups have shown an increase in concern, women (57%, up from 45% last month) and Americans who are black, Latino, Asian or of other races (60%, up from 52%) remain more likely than men (43%, up from 31%) and those who are white (46%, up from 31%) to be very concerned.  Those aged 55 and older (56%, up from 49%) and 35 to 54 years old (52%, up from 38%) are more likely to be very concerned about this than those 18 to 34 years old (42%, up from 27%). More Democrats (66%, up from 58%) are very concerned than independents (46%, up from 31%) and Republicans (37%, up from 24%).

One in four Americans (26%) personally know someone who has gotten the coronavirus, including less than 1% who say they have had it themselves and 7% who say someone they are related to has had it.  By race, those who are white (5%) are less likely than those who are Latino or of another race (12%) to report that they or someone in their family has gotten the coronavirus.

“Americans feel an increasing impact from this public health crisis every week, maybe even every day. These results also underscore how certain groups, particularly racial groups, are being hit harder than others,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 62% of Americans report that the outbreak has had a major impact on their daily lives which is up from 53% in late March. Another 27% say it has had a minor impact and just 10% say it has had no real impact. The biggest increase in feeling a major impact from the pandemic is seen among Republicans (55%, up from 40% last month) compared with independents (64%, up from 57%), and Democrats (66%, up from 61%).

A large number of American households have taken an economic hit during this public health crisis. Four in ten (41%) have lost income due to a decrease in work (up from 35% in late March). Income loss has hit households at all income levels (42% of those earning less than $50,000 a year, 40% of those earning $50,000 to under $100,000, and 43% of those earning $100,000 or more).  Just over 1 in 5 (22%) report having struggled to pay bills because of the health crisis (including 36% of those earning less than $50,000 a year, 13% of those earning $50,000 to under $100,000, and 12% of those earning $100,000 or more).

Thirty percent of Americans report that someone in their household has been laid off from work because of the outbreak, including 7% who report that all wage-earners in their household are currently out of work.  People reporting layoffs in their household include 35% of those earning less than $50,000 a year, 34% of those earning $50,000 to under $100,000, and 26% of those earning $100,000 or more.

 The number of people working from home for the first time has also increased, from 20% late last month to 27% in the current poll. Those earning $100,000 or more (41%) are more likely to be working remotely than those earning $50,000 to just under $100,000 (27%), or less than $50,000 (21%).

While many families have taken an economic hit in the past few weeks, most Americans continue to feel their financial situation is basically stable (62%). Another 26% say they are struggling and 11% say their finances are improving.  These results are virtually identical to last month’s poll (61% stable, 26% struggling, and 11% improving).

“Americans seem to be approaching the current situation as something that will hopefully pass quickly. This could change if the immediate economic slump drags on after the health emergency passes,” said Murray.

Another significant impact for the American public has been trouble finding necessities. Just over half (52%) report there are items they need right now they cannot find in stores or online. Topping this unfulfilled shopping list is toilet paper (23%). Health and cleaning supplies are also reported as missing in action, including hand sanitizer (16%), disinfectant spray (10%), antibacterial wipes (9%), rubbing alcohol (5%), and bleach and other cleaning supplies (10%), as well as other paper products such as paper towels and tissues (11%). Face masks (10%) and other medical items (2%) are also mentioned. Some also report they cannot find certain types of fresh food (13%) or other food items (4%).

One-third of Americans (33%) say they have bought more of certain groceries and supplies than they normally do. Another 9% say they have actually bought less than usual since the outbreak, but most (58%) say the amount they buy has not changed. Just under 1 in 5 (18%) have started getting groceries delivered (up from 12% in late March) and 31% have spent more time shopping online (up from 22% last month).

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that 29% of the public say their lifestyle – what they eat and how much they exercise – has become less healthy since the outbreak, 14% say their lifestyle is more healthy, and 57% say it is the same. At the same time, 63% say they are spending more time watching TV and movies (up from 57% last month).

“Financial difficulties aren’t the only concern arising from this crisis. Many Americans are coping with challenges to their emotional well-being because of the restrictions on normal daily activities,” said Murray.

A majority (55%) say their daily stress level has gone up during the outbreak, including 27% who say it has gone up a lot and 28% who say it has gone up a little. Another 40% say their stress level has not changed and 5% say it has actually gone down during the outbreak. Those earning $100,000 or more (68%) are more likely to report increased stress levels than those earning $50,000 to under $100,000 (52%), or less than $50,000 (49%).

One in four Americans (25%) report feeling more lonely since the outbreak, 7% feel less lonely, and 68% say there has been no change in their feelings of loneliness. More than 3 in 4 (77%) have not been going out to stores and businesses as often as usual (up from 66% who said this last month).

Still, the vast majority of Americans (69%) feel very hopeful that they and their families will be able to get their lives back to normal after the pandemic. Another 26% are somewhat hopeful, while very few are not too (3%) or not at all (1%) hopeful.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 3 to 7, 2020 with 857 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-3 previously released.]

4. Thinking about your current financial situation, would you say you are struggling to remain where you are financially, basically stable in your current financial situation, or is your financial situation improving?


(VOL) Don’t know2%1%1%2%0%

5. How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

  Very concerned50%38%
  Somewhat concerned33%32%
  Not too concerned9%18%
  Not at all concerned7%12%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%
  (VOL) Has already happened0%n/a

6. Do you personally know anyone who has gotten the coronavirus? [If YES: How do you know this person or persons?]

  No one74%

[Q7-13 previously released.]

14. Thinking about you personally, has the coronavirus outbreak had a major impact, minor impact, or no real impact on your own daily life?

  Major impact 62%53%
  Minor impact27%32%
  No impact10%15%
  (VOL) Don’t know1%0%

15. Have you personally done any of the following or had any of the following happen because of the coronavirus outbreak? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

       TREND: Yes, have
No, have not
done/has not
Started to work from home for the first time27%72%0%(857)
   — March 202020%79%1%(851)
Lost income due to a decrease in work hours or less business41%59%1%(857)
   — March 202035%64%1%(851)
Had problems finding child care8%91%1%(857)
   — March 20207%89%4%(851)
Started getting your groceries delivered18%82%0%(857)
   — March 202012%87%1%(851)
Spent more time shopping online31%69%0%(857)
   — March 202022%78%0%(851)
Spent more time watching TV and movies63%37%0%(857)
   — March 202057%42%1%(851)
Have not gone out to stores and businesses as often as you usually do77%23%0%(857)
   — March 202066%33%0%(851)
Struggled to pay your bills22%78%0%(857)
   — March 2020n/an/an/an/a

16. Have you or someone in your household been laid off from work because of the outbreak?  [If YES:Is this you or someone else?]

  Yes, self9%
  Yes, other person18%
  Yes, self and other3%
  No, no one69%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

17. How many people in your household are currently employed?

  Four or more4%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

18. How concerned are you that someone in your household who is currently employed will lose their job because of the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

  Very concerned12%
  Somewhat concerned19%
  Not too concerned16%
  Not at all concerned27%
  All wage earners already out of work (from Q16/17)7%
  No one in household employed (from Q17)19%
  (VOL) Don’t know1%

19. Since the outbreak, have you bought more of certain groceries and supplies than you normally do, about the same as you normally do, or less than you normally do?

  More than normal33%
  About the same as normal58%
  Less than normal9%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

20. Are there any items you need right now that you cannot find in stores or online? [If YES: What are they?] [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

  No, can find what I need48%
  Toilet paper23%
  Other paper products (towels, tissues)11%
  Other medical supplies2%
  Hand sanitizer16%
  Antibacterial wipes9%
  Disinfectant spray, Lysol10%
  Rubbing alcohol5%
  Bleach, other cleaning supplies10%
  Fresh food (eggs, bread, milk)13%
  Other food items4%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

21. Would you say your lifestyle, including what you eat and how much you exercise, is more healthy or less healthy since the coronavirus outbreak, or is it about the same?

  More healthy14%
  Less healthy29%
  About the same57%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

22. How much has your daily stress level changed during the outbreak – has it gone up, gone down, or stayed about the same?  [Has it gone up/down a lot or a little?]

  Gone up a lot27%
  Gone up a little28%
  Stayed about the same40%
  Gone down a little3%
  Gone down a lot2%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

23. Are you feeling more lonely or less lonely since the outbreak, or has this not changed?  [Are you feeling a lot or a little more/less lonely?]

  A lot more lonely10%
  A little more lonely15%
  Not changed68%
  A little less lonely4%
  A lot less lonely3%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%

24. And are you very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, not too hopeful, or not at all hopeful that you and your family will be able to get your lives back to normal after the outbreak is over?

  Very hopeful69%
  Somewhat hopeful26%
  Not too hopeful3%
  Not at all hopeful1%
  (VOL) Don’t know1%

[Q25-34 previously released.]


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from April 3 to 7, 2020 with a national random sample of 857 adults age 18 and older. This includes 345 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 512 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

25% Republican
42% Independent
34% Democrat
49% Male
51% Female
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
37% 55+
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.