Customers line up outside a pop up shop offering hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and face masks in Washington, DC, USA, 06 March 2020. There are 245 confirmed cases with 14 deaths in the US as the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread.Locals shop for hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and face masks as coronavirus spreads, Washington, USA - 06 Mar 2020

The latest Harris Poll on the impact of the coronavirus shows a pandemic that has altered the “everyday life” of consumers while instilling them with fear and uncertainty. The report also showed that social media is “amplifying” their fear.

Researchers at Harris Poll said most Americans are “concerned about [COVID-19] harming the health of older people and the economy.”

Eighty-six percent of those polled said they were most worried about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of older friends and relatives as 84 percent cited the effect the pandemic will have on the economy. Sixty-five percent of respondents were worried about their own health being impacted by the virus.

By generational cohort, Millennials are most worried — 85 percent versus 78 percent for all respondents — about the health of their parents and extended family. The survey also revealed that 27 percent of those polled had a fear of dying from the virus as 50 percent say “trying to keep up with all the safety recommendations is driving their fear.”

In regard to the containment of COVID-19, 22 percent of those polled don’t think it can be done. “On average, Americans anticipate that it will take over four months for the response to the coronavirus outbreak to last,” the authors of the report noted.

The report also found that 74 percent of respondents say that since this is their first time experiencing such a pandemic it “is contributing to their overall fear [a little/a moderate amount/a lot].” The report said this sentiment is found across all demographics and geographies.

In regard to social media, posts touting “drastic headlines” and images of panic shopping, along with a constant stream of people’s personal posts about the pandemic, is fueling fear about the outbreak.

Lastly, while 74 percent of respondents said they’re afraid of “accidentally spreading the virus to vulnerable people even if they’re not experiencing symptoms, they’re not changing their daily patterns to mitigate risk to other people.”

Eighty-nine percent of those polled are still going to coffee shops while 58 percent “have not changed how much they’re having people over” and 50 percent have not changed “hygiene behavior when having people over to their home [e.g., asking friends/family to wash their hands immediately when visiting my house].”

And as Americans “prep for a lockdown,” the Harris Poll said hoarding is going mainstream and is driven by a concern for the scarcity of certain products, such as toilet paper. The hoarding includes other products such as hand sanitizer, bottled water, canned goods, frozen food and snacks.

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