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Data: Axios/Ipsos survey of 1,092 U.S. adults, conducted March 13-16, 2020. Margin of error of ±3.2 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

The threat of a coronavirus outbreak started to weigh on Americans’ mental and emotional health even before they began to embrace the most important preventive measures, according to a new polling partnership between Axios and Ipsos.

Why it matters: Several more weeks of social distancing, including school closures and widespread shutdowns of public spaces, while the outbreak itself continues to grow, will only make that existential toll grow larger.

By the numbers: This national survey of 1,092 adults was conducted March 13-16 — a tipping-point period in which dire official warnings and tight new restrictions heightened awareness of just how bad the pandemic could be.

  • Just 8% of the people in our survey said their physical health had gotten worse over the preceding week, but 22% said their mental health had taken a hit and 29% said their emotional well-being had gotten worse.
  • Nearly 80% said they’re concerned about the coronavirus.

Between the lines: Public-health measures to slow the virus seemed to be gaining a foothold in this period, but were not yet universal.

  • 64% said they had stopped shaking hands in the past week, but 53% said they had not canceled or skipped large gatherings.

What’s next: This is the first installment in a new project — the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index. It will be a weekly barometer of how the pandemic is affecting Americans’ health, finances, trust and quality of life. So stay tuned for more.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 13-16 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,092 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/-3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

Go deeper

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.

The Fed takes on its own rules amid stock trading controversy

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New disclosures that showed Fed officials were active in financial markets set off a firestorm of criticism. Now the Fed may overhaul the long-standing rules that allow those transactions.

Why it matters: What officials actively traded was sensitive to the Fed decisions they helped shape, including the unprecedented support that underpinned a massive financial market boom.