COVID Response Tracking Study

Article by Tom W. Smith (NORC at the University of Chicago)

In an ongoing study funded by the National Science Foundation, NORC at the University of Chicago is conducting a nationally representative longitudinal study to understand Americans’ beliefs, mental health, and outlook before, during and after the coronavirus outbreak.

The surveys are being conducted online and over the phone in English and Spanish with 2,000 respondents using AmeriSpeak— NORC’s probability-based panel. Using innovative methods, this study compares current beliefs to Americans’ responses to prior national tragedies as well as nearly 50 years of prior data collected in the General Social Survey.

Findings from the first wave of 2020 data suggest that the unique and unprecedented coronavirus crisis is having a negative impact on the well-being of Americans and the public is reacting differently than after other national tragedies.

The results from the first survey and the historical context reveals a unique impact of the outbreak: an all-time low in people saying they are very happy combined with an all-time high in people saying they are satisfied with their family’s financial situation. Finally, exposure to the coronavirus either personally or geographically in a highly-impacted area is linked with greater feelings of loneliness and other negative emotional states.

Additional waves of data will be collected over the coming months and will reveal how Americans’ responses to the coronavirus may be evolving over time.