AP-NORC poll: Pandemic impact varies by age, income level

Americans are increasingly taking preventative measures, including staying away from large crowds and avoiding touching their hands to their faces, to confront the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The survey found that 94% of Americans say they are staying away from large groups, up from 68% in mid-March, while 86% say they are avoiding other people as much as possible.

Among other findings in the survey, conducted March 26-29 among American adults:

— Americans’ worries about infection with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have increased dramatically in the past six weeks — including across age groups, race and ethnicity and by political affiliation. But Democrats remain more likely than Republicans to say they are strongly worried, 65% to 31%. Americans under age 45 are more likely than those older to say they are very worried, 54% to 46%. And Latinos are especially likely to express deep concerns, compared with white and black Americans, 64% vs. 47% and 45%, respectively.

— Efforts to reduce the risk of infection are pervasive among Americans of all ages, races and ethnicity, educational backgrounds and income levels. Still, some are more likely to have taken drastic actions than others. While Americans across age groups say they are staying away from large groups, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say they are avoiding other people as much as possible, with 92% of those over 60 doing so compared with 78% of those under 30.

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— Compared with college-educated Americans, those without a degree are somewhat less likely to say they are avoiding other people as much as possible, 90% vs. 83%, and avoiding touching their face, 78% vs. 66%. And Americans in households earning less than $50,000 annually are slightly less likely than those in higher income households to say they are stocking up on food, 57% to 47%.

— Americans with lower incomes and without college degrees also are especially likely to say their households have been hit by layoffs. By contrast, those with college degrees and those with higher incomes are more likely to report working from home, either because they have been asked or have chosen to do so.

— Nearly all parents with a child in day care or school say it has closed, but lower-income parents are especially hard hit by the fallout of those closures. Those in households earning less than $50,000 annually are more likely than those in higher-income households to be at least somewhat concerned about their child falling behind academically, 72% to 56%, or losing access to other services at school, 46% to 22%. More of them also say they are concerned about needing to find alternative child care, 31% to 18%.


The AP-NORC poll of 1,057 adults was conducted March 26-29 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone.