Monday, March 23, 2020

Most Adults Practice Some Degree of Social Distancing

On March 13, with roughly 2,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, less than a third of states had decided to close schools while bars, restaurants and offices across the nation remained bustling, much to the chagrin of public health officials bracing for crisis. One week later, the United States is settling into a new reality of barren streets, isolation and Zoom calls — but not all Americans are embracing the same level of precautions, according to new Morning Consult data.

The survey, conducted March 17-20, comes as state officials take some of the harshest measures yet to keep people inside their homes, shutting down nonessential businesses and most prohibiting outdoor activity. And despite headlines about college students partying on spring break and packed bars over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the poll of 2,006 U.S. adults finds that most people are now practicing some form of social distancing.

The survey finds significant variation across age groups, with senior citizens more than three times as likely as adults between 18 and 29 years old to report total physical and social isolation. But the youngest adults still report being highly cautious and heeding warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with almost 7 in 10 not venturing into any public places.

More so than young people, it is men who report a higher willingness to disregard the CDC’s guidance, with a quarter saying they are continuing to socialize in public, albeit to a lesser extent now.

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