A woman (L) wearing a face mask practises social distancing amid Vietnam’s nationwide social … [+]
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Interpersonal interaction is a basic human need. And, new Gallup data suggests that there is no suitable virtual alternative — not Zoom, not Facebook Portal, and not even socially distanced in-person conversations.
In response to the question, “How long can you follow social distancing practices and business/school closures before your emotional or mental health suffers?”, the pollsters at Gallup found:
- 15% of Americans are already experiencing negative emotional and mental health consequences.
- 37% of Americans indicate they could wait a few more weeks or months.
- And, 48% of Americans could hold out as long as necessary.
In other words, over half of Americans will soon be experiencing mental health issues if the social distancing recommendations stay in place.
This is greater than the proportion of Americans indicating that the quarantine is negatively impacting their physical health. It is also greater than the number of Americans indicating that the quarantine is negatively impacting their finances.
The effects of the quarantine on mental health are hitting young people especially hard; over a quarter of 18 to 44-year-olds are already experiencing negative emotional and mental health consequences.
What other signals have recent public opinion surveys picked up on? Below are four additional insights to help you make sense of the rapidly shifting landscape of COVID-19 attitudes.
#1: Vietnam overtakes Malaysia as the country expressing the most COVID-19 fear.
For the past month, the survey company YouGov has been tracking COVID-19 fear in 26 countries throughout the world. The most recent data shows Vietnam to be the nation most concerned about contracting the disease; 89% of Vietnamese people are “very” or “somewhat” scared they will contract COVID-19.
This is interesting given that there have only been 268 confirmed cases and no fatalities in Vietnam to date.
#2: Finland is the country where COVID-19 fear is lowest.
YouGov data also shows that Finland is now the country with the least amount of COVID-19 fear. Only 38% of Finns are “very” or “somewhat” scared of contracting the disease.
#3: A majority of Americans say the U.S. was too slow in responding to COVID-19.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans believe that Trump was too slow in taking major steps to address the threat of COVID-19.
What’s more interesting is how answers change based on party affiliation. While Democrats are in uniform agreement that Trump’s response was too slow, the extent to which Republicans are willing to criticize the President depends on the severity of the outbreak in their local communities. Over 40% of Republicans living in hard-hit areas agree that Trump was too slow to respond compared to only 25% of Republicans living in areas with less confirmed cases and deaths.
#4: Most Americans believe the worst is still to come.
In thinking about the problems facing the country as a result of Coronavirus, 73% of Americans believe the worst is still to come. Answers to this question are also sharply divided on the basis on party affiliation. Only 56% of Republicans think the worst is still to come compared to 87% of Democrats.