How Prepared Do Americans Feel For COVID-19 As of March 24th?

We asked Americans each of the last two weekends about preparedness: Nearly 40 percent are confident, 20 percent are concerned.

By the Research team | Updated March 24, 2020

With much of America preparing for an extended period of social distancing, isolation, or “shelter in place”, we wanted to understand just how prepared Americans feel when it comes to essentials – such as food, water, toiletries, and medicine. We asked Americans in each of the last two weekends their level of preparedness, and found:

  • As of this past weekend, 20 percent of Americans felt unprepared with food, water, and/or essential medicine if needing to stay at home for 14 days. This is an improvement over two weeks ago when 25 percent of Americans felt this way.
  • Nearly 40 percent of Americans feel “very” or “extremely prepared” as of this past weekend, consistent with two weekends ago
  • Non-workers are much more likely to feel unprepared with essential items.
  • Parents with kids in the house are more likely to feel both “extremely prepared” and “not at all prepared.”
  • Seniors are least likely to feel unprepared and more likely to feel confident overall in their preparedness.

How Prepared do Americans feel?

We asked Americans how prepared they were with food, water, and essential medicine if asked to stay in their homes for 14 days. Approximately 37 percent of Americans reported feeling “very” or “extremely prepared” in each of the last two weekends. Twenty percent are feeling “not so prepared” or “not at all prepared” this past weekend, and improvement over the 25 percent from the weekend of March 14th-15th.

Working Americans Are Much More Likely To Feel Prepared

At the time of our survey, around half of employed respondents reported some sort of change in their work lives due to the virus. About one-in-five of those employed are now working from home when they previously worked in an office. With policies changing on a daily, and sometimes even hourly, basis, work lives will continue to change throughout the course of the outbreak.

Americans that are currently working (defined as part-time, full-time or self-employed) are significantly more likely to feel “extremely” or “very” prepared than Americans that are not working. Americans that are not working are much more likely to feel “not at all prepared.”

Parents More Likely To Feel “Not at all prepared”

As many schools begin closing, parents are forced to change their routines and find ways to educate children at home. At the time of our survey, half of all parents to children ages K-12 reported school closures or moves to an online format, and 23 percent reported no school changes for their children. These numbers are changing daily.

There was very little difference in levels of preparedness between those with children and those without children. However, the percentage of people who reported feeling, not at all prepared with essential items was twice as high for those with children than those without children.

Seniors Least Likely to Feel Unprepared

Seniors are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and are much less likely to feel “not at all prepared” to stay home for 14 days. Seniors are also more likely to feel confident in their preparedness when taking into account “very prepared.”

About our data

This data comes from a survey of more than 1,000 American adults over the weekends of March 14-15 and March 21-22. Our survey focused on respondents’ preparedness in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. We also asked questions on work status, presence of children in the home and related questions.

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