Tell Us How You Really Feel About COVID-19

More than 4,000 Americans shared their worries, fears, and opinions on living through the coronavirus pandemic.

by Lauren Paige Kennedy Senior Editor

Two weeks ago, when Remedy Health Media, parent company to HealthCentral, sent out a 21-question survey on COVID-19 to 4,300 Americans, the world was a different place. We were just entering the beginning phase of this new (and seriously strange) coronavirus era, not yet fully settled into the rhythms of home-schooling our kids, Zooming in for conference calls, disinfecting our groceries, and staring down strangers who continue to flout the non-negotiable, six-feet-apart rule.

It’s true we’re getting—what’s the right word?—better at this whole social-distancing thing, now that nearly a month has passed since many of us were first urged to stay in our houses or apartments. It’s still not normal. Not even remotely. But, with weeks of practice under our collective belt and the slow realization this just might be the new normal—at least for a while—many of us have a lot of feelings about the pandemic and how it affects our lives, livelihoods, loved ones, and future health outlooks.

Anxiety is a common, and primary, emotion at the moment…

Percentage of people who are anxious about the coronavirus vs percentage of people who aren't seeing a therapt
Nikki Cagle

More than 65% of those who responded said they feel anxious about CV-19 and all it may unleash—physically, economically, even civilly—although the same percentage polled also said they don’t see a therapist. Still, most experts say some anxiety is a healthy response when the world is this off-kilter—so, no, you’re not going crazy. (If you’re struggling, however, this might be a good time to look into finding the right doctor through tele-sessions, and reviewing smart tips on maintaining your emotional well-being during such turbulent, unpredictable times.)

…especially when a chronic condition is already present.

Interestingly, 65% of participants also confirmed they currently live with a chronic condition, with 15% citing autoimmune disease, 10% respiratory conditions, 8% diabetes, and 6% mental health problems, all of which can make COVID-19 more complicated—and dangerous—to get. (If you have underlying health issues, including cardiovascular and/or lung disease, learn more about how to best protect yourself from the virus.)

Percentage of people who don't feel well-informed about their chronic condition when it comes to the coronavirus
Nikki Cagle
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Still, our biggest worries have actually already happened in some parts of the country.

U.S. healthcare facilities in virus hot zones are struggling to keep up with the surge of new cases. Millions of workers are filing for unemployment each week. And mortality figures continue to rise—to date, 91,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. It is expected that these number will rise and by the end of May we will exceed 100,000 deaths. So, it’s no surprise that our largest fears concern:

  1. Our hospitals being overrun (55%)

  2. The sharp economic downturn that could lead to recession or even depression (53%)

  3. The idea that someone we love might die after becoming infected (43%)

Learn how “flattening the curve”—which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested just might be starting to happen in New York City as of April 6—can help a bad situation from getting worse.

Ways to cope with anxiety and fear of the coronavirus include video chats, virtual therapy, meditation, read, and do hobbies
Nikki Cagle

Many of us feel seriously impatient with Americans who refuse to comply with the new rules.

Speaking of social distancing, more than half of all respondents reported they felt “annoyed” when they saw people out and about, gathering in groups, or otherwise ignoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for living and interacting in the COVID-19 age. (And can you blame them? The longer some of us refuse to fall in line, the longer we’ll all likely be trapped in our homes.) If you know someone who still thinks COVID-19 is just a media myth or is no different from the seasonal flu, urge them to change their ways to help stop the dangerous, at times deadly community spread of the coronavirus.

"More than 50% of people are annoyed when they see people in their community out about in crowds."
Nikki Cagle

And more than half of us are still confused about what, exactly, we’re supposed to do.

Are Amazon packages safe, or must we wipe down every cardboard box before we unpack it and bring it into the house? What about face masks? As the CDC abruptly changed course on the subject of face coverings in early April (now urging all Americans to wear one when out in public to prevent transmission of the disease to others), many of us still feel muddled about what is safe to do, and what is not.

Among our respondents:

  • 54% say they needed clearer guidelines around quarantine.

  • 36% wanted more information about COVID-19 treatments.

  • 35% asked to know how the virus affects chronic life.

  • 33% are confused about testing, and how, exactly, to get it.

While we at Remedy Health Media don’t have all the answers to your COVID-19 questions—because no one does, right now—we can offer expert insight into many of them.

For many, CV-19 stigma is still a thing.

While 85% of people surveyed reported they did not think they had symptoms of the coronavirus (with 12% saying they weren’t sure, and 2% saying they did), a whopping 77% said they would not disclose the illness to anyone if they tested positive for it.

Sure, it’s true that everyone from pop singer Pink to über-author J.K. Rowling has shared the news of their diagnoses and recovery on social media. But for quite a few people, a positive COVID-19 test is not something they’d want anyone out of their immediate circles to know. Perhaps such feelings will abate as we learn more about the virus—and an eventual vaccine is developed to save the day.

History of epidemics in the last 50 years
Nikki Cagle

Life has changed—socially, professionally, and emotionally.

We probably didn’t need a survey to tell you that much—we’re all living it, with many of us either working from home, or worrying about how to pay the bills as thousands of businesses close their doors temporarily, and sometimes (and sadly) permanently, all across the nation. Even so, among our 4,300 respondents, the biggest impact in their lives has been how they interact with their friends and family (47%)—seeing some loved ones 24-7, and others, not at all—followed by their states of mind, with 45% admitting to fluctuations in their emotions and mental well-being. How COVID-19 is changing the world, and each of us along with it, can’t be understated; only time will tell if this “new normal” signals a revised way of going forward, or will be remembered as those weird few months when we all battened down the hatches, binge-watched far too much TV, and hid inside our homes, waiting out the COVID-19 storm.

"The world is legit bananas right now, so it's actually healthy to feel anxious."
Nikki Cagle
Lauren Paige Kennedy
Meet Our Writer
Lauren Paige Kennedy

Lauren assigns and edits articles across HealthCentral’s 90+ condition categories. She's written and/or edited health content for close to 20 years, and she’s interviewed some of the biggest names in Hollywood, music, sports, publishing, and politics—almost always with a health-focused slant. She was a Co-founding Editor of WebMD Magazine, Editor in Chief of Washington Flyer, and Corporate Copy Director of Condé Nast Media Group. Her work has appeared in WebMD Magazine and webmd.com, The Washington Post, USA Today/Weekend, Neurology Now, Brain + Life, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, WWD, Style.com, Washingtonian, Travel + Leisure, Financial Times, and many others.