Apr 7, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: The virus hits home

Data: Ipsos/Axios poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Ipsos/Axios poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The share of Americans who know someone who's tested positive has more than tripled in just a few weeks, to 14%, according to the latest installment of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • It's still highest in the Northeast, but last week alone it doubled in the South — and it's becoming most pronounced among people who still must leave home to work.

Why it matters: As the U.S. braces for infection rates to peak at different times in different cities and states, Week 4 of our national survey shows how the pandemic is pervading all of society, but unevenly.

Between the lines: The way the outbreak is touching the lives of different groups gives us a deeper understanding about the waves in which the virus spreads.

  • Among those still reporting to work as they normally would, the share of people who knew someone with the virus grew by 15 percentage points since our initial March 13-16 survey, from 3% to 18%. (It jumped from 10% to 18% in just the last week.)
  • That compares with a gain of 11 percentage points among those working from home, from 5% to 16%. (The increases are smaller among those who already weren't working, or who got furloughed.)

"People are literally knowing more people that have the virus," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "I think that's significant, because it becomes more real."

  • "We're going to see many more people getting it, dying, and many more people knowing someone who either had it or died."
  • Regionally, those most likely to know someone who tested positive are still in the Northeast, at 23%.
  • Meanwhile, the rate doubled for survey respondents in the South in just one week, from 7% to 14%. It also rose in the West, from 8% to 13%. In the Midwest, it fell marginally, from 11% to 9%.
Data: Ipsos/Axios poll; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Ipsos/Axios poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

The emotional health of those working normally appears to be worsening — and catching up to those who have been working from home.

  • Back in mid-March, 42% of those working from home said their emotional well being had gotten worse, compared with just 24% of those working normally.
  • In this week's survey, that gap had nearly closed — to 46% for those working from home and 41% for those working normally.

One small silver lining in this week's findings: Americans suddenly have a lot more free time.

  • 48% said they have more free time now than two months ago, while 11% have less. (For 41% it's made no difference.)
  • Much of the increase in free time appeared to be connected to work: 27% said they're working fewer hours and 30% experienced no change, while just 7% said they're working longer hours. (The rest weren't working before February.)
  • People ages 18-29 reported the largest percentage of those saying they have more free time (62%).
  • On the flip side, the 30-to-49 age group reported the largest percentage of those saying they now have less free time (17%).

The big picture: This week's overall findings mostly reflect deepening or status-quo-bad news about how people are experiencing the pandemic.

  • 56% are now concerned about their job security, a new high for the survey.
  • 47% of those still working said it's gotten hard to do their jobs, the highest rate so far in a month of polling.
  • Nine in 10 are concerned about the virus, with a slight shift from "somewhat" to "very" and "extremely" concerned.
  • 41% said their emotional health was worse.
  • 45% of those working have been told to work from home.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 3-6 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,136 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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