Understanding Impacts of COVID-19 on the Nation

In order to better understand the inequities, challenges, and concerns faced by communities across the nation, we worked with polling firm YouGov to design an eight-question survey to be taken by representative samples of the population at three time points during the pandemic (October 2020, December 2020, and March 2021). 

We utilized multiple choice questions to help us investigate these major themes:

  • What have been the biggest challenges to maintaining overall wellbeing and stability during COVID-19?
  • What do people see as the greatest needs during next phases of the pandemic?
  • What supports have been in place to assist respondents? What barriers have been present to detract?
  • What are greatest opportunities to receive support during the next phases of the pandemic?

For full survey methodology click here.

Highlights of our findings:

  • Overall, we found most respondents were most concerned with three primary issues during the pandemic: their mental and emotional health, employment, and ability to pay for basic expenses. This persisted across October, December and March. These three areas were also where people went looking for assistance the most. Interestingly, these continue to be the top choices for areas where assistance is still necessary in 2021, although many more respondents answered that they needed assistance in December as opposed to March.
  • In our October poll, most individuals ranked their mental and emotional health as the largest challenge they tried to get help with through the pandemic, as well as the challenges they would continue to need support with moving forward. In our next poll in December, this trend continued, with a surge in concern over the need for future assistance in their ability to pay for basic expenses, as well as employment situation. This surge diminished in the responses to our March poll, with fewer individuals seeking assistance with employment or the ability to pay for basic expenses. However, respondents continued to rate mental and emotional health as the challenge with the largest impact on their wellbeing. 
  • Although a majority of respondents initially reported they did not need assistance with the challenges they faced during COVID-19, this response changed in our December polls, with the two highest responses being “Fear that I or others in my household may get sick” and “I/we were unsure of what kind of help was available. In March, we saw responses regarding the need for assistance diminish in all areas, potentially due to the arrival of COVID-19 vaccinations, and the potential to return to a more normal lifestyle. 

The Questions 

The questions we asked in each poll are below. Click on a section header to see results for those questions.

Biggest Challenges People Faced During the Pandemic

Thinking about March 2020* to now, how much, if at all, has COVID or coronavirus changed you or your household’s situation in the following areas? Please select one option on each row.

Why we asked: This question shows how Americans feel their household situation has changed across different domains of their lives, for worse or for better, because of COVID-19.

Thinking about March 2020* to now, which ONE of these has negatively affected you or your household the MOST? Please select the option that best applies.

Why we asked: This question was asked to understand which of the following areas posed the biggest challenge to respondents through the COVID-19 pandemic. By choosing only one answer, respondents were able to communicate which challenge posed the largest obstacle for them and their household. 

Two Biggest Challenges People Expect to Encounter in the Next Two Years

Thinking about the next two years. which of the following do you think will be the biggest challenges for you or your household? Please select the TWO options that best apply.

Why we asked: This question asks respondents to reflect on which impacts of the pandemic are most likely to continue to be pressing issues. Although they may not require help now, these answers provide us with an understanding of which issues remain, which cannot be resolved quickly, and which are consistent hardships for Americans. 

Challenges That Caused People to Look for Help and What They Still Need Help For

Thinking about March 2020* to now, which, if any, of the following challenges have you or your household tried to get help with because of COVID or coronavirus? Please select all that apply.

Why we asked: Many Americans required aid with the challenges they faced through the pandemic. This question sought to understand which challenges were too great for respondents to resolve themselves, and therefore sought assistance to overcome.

Which, if any, of the following challenge(s) do you still need help with now? Please select all that apply.

Why we asked: Although respondents sought help through the pandemic, some challenges were too great to overcome. This question was designed to understand which these challenges persisted, and for whom, throughout the pandemic.

Where People Turned for Help and Where they Expect to Need Help in the Future

How much help, if any, have you and your household received from the following sources during COVID or coronavirus? Please select one option on each row.

Why we asked: This question helped frame which organizations respondents went to for help, and how much help they received. This information helped illuminate which entities respondents were able to get assistance from; overcoming barriers if necessary, and allows us to better understand which sources of support were the most helpful to and relied upon by Americans. 

Thinking about the next two years (i.e., until October 2022), which source(s), if any, do you believe you and your household will need help from? Please select all that apply. 

Why we asked: This question allowed respondents to communicate which organizations they view as helpful, and which they are likely to turn to for assistance in the future. This information can be used to plan how help will be sought as respondents deal with the longer lasting impacts of the pandemic, as well as which establishments should plan to continue offering assistance. 

Barriers that Stopped People from Getting Help during COVID-19

Thinking about March 2020* to now, which, if any, of these barriers has stopped you or your household from getting help during COVID or coronavirus? Please select all that apply.

Why we asked: In addition to understanding which organizations Americans turned to for help, we also wanted to know if there were instances where Americans encountered hurdles to acquiring help. We sought to understand which barriers to getting help were most prevalent so that we can help identify areas to reduce those barriers in recovery and planning for future events.

*In October and December national polls, respondents were asked to consider March 2020 to the time of polling. In March, they were asked to consider July 2020 to the time of polling. 

The Findings – Data and Analysis

View Data and Analysis

If you are interested in downloading complete data for your own analysis, please contact us at contactus@healthcareready.org.
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