Grinnell College poll: 1 in 4 Americans have lost wages because of coronavirus
President Donald Trump is extending the voluntary national shutdown for a month as sickness and death from the coronavirus pandemic rises in the U.S. Wochit
People in the U.S. have changed their habits and taken financial hits from the new coronavirus, but they still expect the country to get through the pandemic OK, a new national poll from Grinnell College shows.
The Grinnell College National Poll, released Wednesday, contains a snapshot of how Americans have been affected by the novel coronavirus which has spread around the world. The poll includes 1,009 U.S. adults and was conducted from March 27-30 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
In the U.S., nearly 200,000 people have tested positive for the virus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease, and nearly 4,000 people have died from it in recent weeks. Businesses have sent workers home; states have ordered restaurants, bars and many stores closed; and schools have shut down to try to slow the virus' spread.
The result is affecting people's incomes and employment
More than one in four people (28%) say they have already lost wages or other personal income because of the coronavirus. The same percentage said they had lost what they considered to be a substantial amount in a retirement account, and 16% said they had been laid off or furloughed from work.
Fifteen percent of respondents said they had taken on additional child care responsibilities; 10% have had difficulty getting needed medical care or other basic services such as meals, public transportation and government benefits; 9% said they were unable to pay a regular bill; and 5% said they have gone hungry because of difficulty obtaining food.
People have changed their daily routines because of the virus
Respondents were asked about guidelines given by public health officials and offered the choice of selecting that some of the answers do not apply to them.
Of the subset of people who said the questions did apply to their behavior, 98% said they have washed their hands more frequently; 91% have stayed away from gatherings of 10 or more people; 84% have mostly stayed inside without physical contact with others; 82% have changed travel plans; and 60% have worked from home.
People are willing to stay home
Many states have implemented stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders forbidding travel except for essential activities — a restriction that a large majority of poll respondents said they could live with, if necessary.
When asked how long would be reasonable for them to stay home without physical contact with people outside their homes in order to "stop the spread of coronavirus in your community", 70% said "as long as asked." Thirteen percent said two weeks would be reasonable, 8% said one week and 2% said a day or two. Four percent said they would not be willing to comply with such an order at all.
The answers were not much different when people were asked how long they would stay home "in order to keep you from contracting coronavirus." In response to that question, 72% said "as long as asked;" 15% said two weeks, 6% said a week and 2% said a day or two. Again, 4% said they would "would not be willing at all."
People see threats in the virus and its impact
About one in three Americans (32%) said contracting COVID-19 is a high threat to them — more than 20 points higher than those who said the same about being in a car accident (9%) or being a victim of a violent crime (6%). Two percent of respondents said they had already contracted COVID-19.
A majority of Americans (53%) said they believe the greater long-term risk posed by the coronavirus is the health threat that could overwhelm hospitals and the health care system, compared with 40% who said the greater risk is the economic impact of shutting down businesses and people staying at home. Eight percent were not sure.
Still, when asked to choose some words or phrases to describe their state of mind, 88% said they felt "confident Americans will get through this and be OK." That was the most popular answer to the question, which allowed respondents to choose multiple answers. Other responses were calm (72%), stressed (55%), boxed in (42%), scared (39%), confused (34%), angry (31%), unconcerned (22%), lonely (21%), panicked (18%) and feeling doomed (15%).
A majority approve of Trump's handling of the economy and coronavirus
The poll also included questions about President Donald Trump's favorability and job performance, and voters' preference in the presidential race.
Trump is viewed favorably by 43% of U.S. adults and unfavorably by 51%. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the delegate leader in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, is viewed favorably by 46% and unfavorably by 42%. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 43%.
Trump's overall job approval stands at 48% approval and 45% disapproval. He gets higher marks on his handling of the economy (54% approve, 36% disapprove) and the coronavirus situation (50% approve, 43% disapprove). More respondents disapprove of Trump's job "understanding the problems facing people like me" (42% approve, 46% disapprove) and immigration (41% approve, 51% disapprove).
Likely voters said they would choose Biden over Trump 47% to 43%, if the election were held today. Trump bested Sanders in a head-to-head match-up with 44% to Sanders' 43%, but that number falls within the poll's margin of error, which is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for questions asked only of likely voters.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
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