Americans Are More Worried About Social Distancing Ending Too Soon Than Lasting Too Long: Poll

Most Americans are more concerned about social distancing measures ending too soon than going on for too long, a new poll has found.

The latest survey from progressive polling firm Navigator found that 53 percent of U.S. adults were worried about an early end to social distancing prolonging the pandemic, damaging the economy and putting American lives at risk.

By comparison, only three-in-ten were worried about an extension of the rules hitting the nation's health and economy. A further 17 percent of respondents said they were not sure which outcome they were more concerned about.

Pollsters found that Democrats were more likely to be fearful of social distancing measures getting cut short, with 62 percent of those surveyed saying the prospect concerned them more than a prolonged shutdown.

Denver Residents Social Distance in Line
People stand in freshly painted circles, six-feet-apart, as they wait in a line on March 23, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Republicans were closer split on the matter. Forty-five percent were more concerned about an earlier end to distancing rules while 37 percent were worried about shutdowns going on for too long and damaging American livelihoods.

More than half of all voters (52 percent) said social distancing measures needed to become more aggressive and further limit people's movement while 37 percent said they believed the country was doing the right thing at present.

When asked how the novel coronavirus pandemic could be best described, an overwhelming majority of 81 percent said it was a "major crisis" while a further 17 percent called it a "major problem."

The new Navigator polling data also indicated that U.S. adults were not optimistic about the immediate future.

A little more than three quarters of respondents (78 percent) told pollsters they believed the worst of the pandemic was yet to come as just 11 percent said the worst was over.

This view was shared by both Democrats and Republicans, with 85 percent of Democrats saying the worst was yet to come compared to 70 percent of GOP voters.

Quizzed on measures they were taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, 84 percent said they were spending almost all of their time at home and 81 percent recorded avoiding events and gatherings.

The same percentage said they were not going to bars and restaurants, while a little more than three quarters of Americans (77 percent) said they were grocery shopping less often than they were before the pandemic.

A further 69 percent were avoiding said they avoiding in-person interactions with friends and family.

Navigator pollsters interviewed 1,007 registered voters between April 2 and April 7 for their latest poll. Its margin of error stands at 3.1 percentage points.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.