Survey: COVID-19 is getting in our heads


As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the United States, it is increasingly affecting those who are not infected. Social bonds are being broken, businesses are closing, jobs are being lost, and the stress is mounting.

In a poll conducted March 25-30, 45% of Americans said that stress resulting from the pandemic is having a negative impact on their mental health, compared with 32% expressing that view just 2 weeks earlier, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported April 2.

In the later survey, the effect looked like this: 19% of all respondents said that the pandemic has had a major negative impact and 26% said it has been minor so far. Women were more likely than men (24% vs. 15%) to report a major impact, as were blacks and Hispanic adults (both at 24%) compared with whites (17%), the KFF investigators said.

More Hispanic (44%) and black (42%) respondents also said that they had already lost their job, lost income, or had their hours reduced without pay as a result of the pandemic, compared with whites (36%). Among all respondents, 26% had lost income from a job or business and 28% had lost their job, been laid off, or had their hours reduced without pay, according to KFF.

A majority of respondents (57%) reported “being worried they will put themselves at risk of exposure to coronavirus because they can’t afford to stay home and miss work,” the researchers said. That figure is up from 35% in the earlier survey.

Anxiety about work-related exposure was even higher among hourly workers or those who get paid by the job (61%) and among employed adults who earn less than $40,000 annually (72%), they reported.

Overall, 72% of respondents said that their lives have been disrupted “a lot” or “some” by the coronavirus outbreak, and that is a jump of 32 percentage points over the previous poll, the investigators noted.

The disruption is expected to continue, it seems, as 74% believe that the worst is yet to come “in spite of the health, social and economic upheaval that Americans are already experiencing,” they wrote.

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