Coronavirus survey: America’s new health habits

Cropped SingleCare logo By | March 25, 2020

A lot has changed since the new coronavirus emerged in China in December 2019. As businesses temporarily close, more people work from home, and COVID-19 spreads around the world, we wondered how the novel coronavirus has changed Americans’ health habits and opinions of health care in the United States. To find out, SingleCare surveyed 1,000 Americans.

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Americans are changing their medication habits due to coronavirus

Although 59% of respondents are limiting their visits to stores and pharmacies, nearly one-third of Americans are still going to the pharmacy in-person to pick up their prescriptions. Mail-order prescriptions and pharmacy delivery are other ways to access medications while social distancing. SingleCare is offering a new service to help you get access to prescription delivery services. Contact SingleCare’s pharmacy delivery hotline at 800-222-2818 for help.

Pandemic precautions mean stockpiling medications and other essentials

A quarter of respondents are extending their prescription fills from standard 30-day periods to 60- or 90-day refills. Picking up more medication at one time not only limits your pharmacy visits, but it can also help you save money on prescriptions in the long-run as you pay fewer copays.

Although there is no official treatment for COVID-19 yet, mild to moderate coronavirus cases may be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol. Perhaps this is why 23% of Americans are stocking up on over-the-counter medications.

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And, of course, it’s not just medicine that people are purchasing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what people have been adding to their cart, according to our survey results:

  • 48% are stocking up on non-perishable foods
  • 39% are stocking up on cleaning supplies
  • 38% are stocking up on bottled water 
  • 34% are stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels 
  • 30% are stocking up on hand sanitizer
  • 20% have doubled their usual grocery lists

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Nearly 9 in 10 Americans are getting better at handwashing

A seemingly simple life lesson we learned in childhood has resurfaced as a golden rule during the coronavirus outbreak: wash your hands. 87% of Americans reported washing their hands more frequently and/or for longer periods of time during this public health emergency. Public health officials and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have encouraged people around the world to take additional safety precautions and, according to our survey, most people are listening. 

  • 74% practice social distancing
  • 65% avoid touching their face, nose, and eyes
  • 62% practice home-isolation by voluntarily staying at home
  • 59% limit visits to stores and pharmacies
  • 28% adhere to government-mandated rules to shelter in place
  • 19% change clothes upon returning home from the store and/or pharmacy
  • 15% wear a mask
  • 14% use contactless, mobile payments (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay)

Concerns about health care availability and affordability are increasing

In the midst of preparing for the coronavirus, many Americans sought out face masks. And, as noted above, 15% of respondents reported wearing a mask. However, many public health officials have discouraged citizens from buying and wearing face masks for three important reasons. Most people do not know how to use these face masks correctly, they are ineffective against human transmission of COVID-19 unless you are an infected person, and hoarding supplies results in shortages of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers who rely on them for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

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Shortages in medical supplies, medications, and healthcare personnel contribute to why 41% of Americans are concerned about receiving adequate medical care. And as supply and demand shift, we know affordability can be significantly affected. 23% of people worry about being able to afford medical treatment and 21% worry about being able to afford medication.

Americans have mixed feelings about the coronavirus vaccine

One clinical trial began in the U.S. earlier this month and several coronavirus vaccines are in research and development around the world. However, vaccine approval usually takes 12 to 18 months. We asked Americans how they felt about getting a coronavirus vaccine when one is approved and their answers were surprising. 49% don’t want to get a coronavirus vaccine. Of those respondents, 28% said they would get the vaccine if they were legally required to. The other 21% don’t want to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at all.

Social distancing spurs feelings of anxiety

Without an official treatment or vaccine, what are Americans left to do in the meantime? Many local and state governments have ordered residents to shelter in place and some cities are on lockdown. Although 74% of respondents said they’re social distancing, not everyone is practicing healthy habits in their free time at home:

  • 22% of adults are working out less
  • 17% of are eating more
  • 10% are drinking more alcohol

Physical health isn’t the only thing at risk during this coronavirus isolation period. Almost a quarter of Americans are concerned that social distancing will affect their mental health.

  • 19% feel that social distancing is increasing their anxiety
  • 17% feel isolated
  • 14% feel more depressed

Fortunately, there are ways to cope with coronavirus isolation. Although many gyms have closed, people can still follow online workout videos. Some trails and beaches are on the list of exceptions for cities under shelter in place orders, so residents can still get out of the house while practicing social distancing. You can find other healthy habits and tips here.

Our methodology

This survey was conducted online by SingleCare on March 20, 2020 through AYTM. It included 1,000 Americans aged 18+. Sex and age were census-balanced to match the population of the U.S.

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