What Americans Need, Feel and Fear

About the Coronavirus Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, efforts from the Ad Council, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House, were initially focused around a single message: Slow the Spread. As the significant impacts of the virus rose around the country, it became time to address the urgent, varied needs of Americans triggered by this crisis.

Throughout the spring of 2020, conversations, questions and fears around the pandemic grew as quickly as the virus spread. In order to help determine what Americans really needed, in real time—and how those needs might change as the pandemic unfolded—the Ad Council began research for the study, Coping with COVID-19: What Americans Need, Feel and Fear About the Coronavirus Pandemic. Through social listening analysis and a survey fielded six times over three months, the Ad Council identified people’s mental, social and economic challenges, to help inform ongoing efforts and make the information available to others who are in a position to help Amercians in need during this challenging time.

This research highlighted four dominant trends about Americans and COVID-19, from April to June 2020:

  1. Americans’ fears about their own health and the health of others (family/friends) lessened. Despite the decrease, people still largely took precautions against COVID-19.
  2. Economic fears and financial impact decreased steadily.
  3. While anxiety and depression spiked through the spring, gratitude remained the most dominant emotion at the outset of, and throughout, the crisis (April-June 2020).
  4. The COVID-19 crisis not only highlighted—but also exacerbated — inequities around race and income.
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