A Shifting Mood but a Divided Nation in Latest Coronavirus Survey

The first glimmers of hope for life beyond the coronavirus broke through in the news last week. The curve has flattened in COVID-19 hotspot New York, discussion moved into plans for reopening the economy and, most recently, rumors of a successful trial and potential treatment sent the Dow soaring 700 points on Friday.

While the positive news is heavily caveated by still-grim realities — at the time of writing this post, the U.S. had nearly 800,000 confirmed cases and more than 35,000 deaths — and numerous conditions for reasonably considering getting back to relative normal, after being beleaguered by bad news for weeks, last week felt different and that showed up in the latest survey.

Concern Declines for the First Time

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While some of the good news came after Consumer Brands’ week seven survey fielded on Wednesday night, the very beginnings of change showed up in the results. For the first time since we started this survey on March 4, concern dipped slightly — those who said they were “very concerned” dropped from 63 percent to 58 percent. It’s still well above where we started on March 4th (when it was just 37%), but it is also the first decline we’ve seen yet.

Access Concerns Dip with One Exception

Access concerns also continued to dip in most categories. Food and beverage access concerns, which was the top category of concern for several weeks, dropped again to 64 percent — that’s just one percentage point lower than last week, but it’s 13 points lower than the peak on March 18. The drop in concern reflects the supply chain working out many of the early kinks and stores restocking many items that were wiped out in March.

In contrast, concerns over access to household cleaning products has steadily crept up over the last seven weeks. As disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products that kill coronavirus have remained difficult to find, concern has gone up to 74 percent, 20 points higher than when we first asked the question on March 11. The industry is working overtime to produce as much as possible, with many companies changing production lines to meet demand.

Americans are Divided Over Reopening the Country

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Americans believe the government will reopen the country sooner than they personally feel we should be back to relative normal. Where 69 percent of Americans feel the government will ease restrictions by late spring or early summer, 60 percent personally agree with that timeframe.
As coronavirus has dragged on, there is an emerging debate between reopening the country for the sake of the economy and staying closed for the benefit of public health. Americans are near-evenly divided: 41 percent lean toward reopening the economy and 42 percent lean toward staying closed for public health. Just 18 percent were neutral or undecided.

Time will tell if the divide intensifies or if more Americans will change their mind as the situation changes. As it stands now, there is no agreed upon path forward, but there is, finally, some hope in the survey results.


For more detailed results from this week’s survey, please click here.

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