We polled the nation in October 2020, December 2020, and March 2021 to illuminate how US communities have experienced COVID-19.
We asked respondents how COVID-19 has changed their household’s situation, from their ability to access medicine, to employment status, to housing situation. Participants were asked to rate either how much their situation worsened or improved as a result of the pandemic.
The following question shows how US residents feel their household situation has changed across different aspects of their lives, for worse or for better, because of COVID-19.
These results show that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were immense and reached into many areas of peoples’ lives, from healthcare, to housing, to economic situation.
Economic areas such as employment, the ability to pay for basic necessities like food, the ability to get medicines or medical treatment, and housing were If employment is hard to maintain, other economic categories that rely on a source of income also deteriorate. As household economic situations worsen, they add more and more stress to individuals, which can, among other factors, lead to worsening of emotional or mental health. It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative effect on many domains of most peoples’ lives, but it is evident from these results that economic concerns are a driving factor to these cascading consequences.
We asked respondents to select the one challenge (out of nine possible challenges) that negatively impacted them the most.
COVID-19 has created many overlapping challenges – this question highlights which challenges, of many, were most harmful to most respondents during this time.
These results show the immense impact on psychological well-being during the pandemic in the last quarter of 2020 and how issues may have shifted at the start of 2021. Increases in the number of respondents who said their greatest challenge was employment situation or ability to pay for basic expenses between October and December may reflect the ongoing (and in some areas, worsening) economic impact of COVID-19.
The downward shift in the number of respondents who said their biggest challenge was their ability to get medicines or treatment between October and December may be attributed to providers loosening limitations on in-office services or appointments. Especially in early stages of the pandemic, providers shifted to telehealth services to expand access to care, limit disease exposure for staff and patients, and reduce the patient demand on facilities. However, a perception among some patients that telehealth services do not provide the same quality of care and/or the fact telehealth is more difficult to access for some individuals may have limited their ability to access medicines or treatments.
The proportion of respondents who said their biggest challenge was their ability to pay for basic expenses or employment situation rose between October and December. In March, fewer respondents said these were their most pressing challenge, revealing signs of positive economic change. This could be attributed to national policy adjustments, improvement of finances that may have been further drained by the winter holiday season, and/or the Presidential transition.
The number of people who said their primary challenge was either caretaking, childcare, housing, or technology was very consistent across polls, likely due to economic challenges weighing more heavily or more tangibly on the majority of respondents. Additionally, policies such as the Federal Eviction Moratoriums in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic have limited the likelihood for housing situations to deteriorate between October and March, offering some relief to US residents through the pandemic.
These results show the immense impact on psychological well-being during the pandemic in the last quarter of 2020 and how issues may have shifted during the first quarter of 2021. Increases in the number of respondents who said their greatest challenge was employment situation or ability to pay for basic expenses between October and December may reflect the ongoing (and in some areas, worsening) economic impact of COVID-19. From December to March, the proportion of respondents who said emotional or mental health or ability to pay for medicines were their greatest challenges increased.
Polling was completed with support of the Walmart Foundation for our project, Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color.
Read more about our work on equity during the pandemic: COVID-19: Equitable Response and Recovery