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Worries About the Economy and the Health of Frontline Workers Top List of Concerns around COVID-19 Pandemic in America

New Research from the Ad Council Studying the Current Needs and Fears of the American Public Also Finds High Levels of Gratitude and Hope

New York, NY, April 8, 2020 -- The Ad Council today announced new research findings regarding Americans' feelings, needs and fears in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that 69 percent of Americans are most worried about the economy, with four in five Americans reporting that they have already been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The study examined public perceptions around the economy, health, connectedness and access to information to provide the resources necessary to support the American public. 

The new weekly study, Coping with COVID-19, also found that while three in four Americans claim they do not personally know anyone who has been infected with COVID-19, the "health of frontline workers" and "people not taking the pandemic seriously" remain high on the list of Americans' concerns. Additionally, most Americans report being more concerned about the health of their friends or family members (53%) than they are about their own health (34%).

"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in every possible way. Even during this very challenging time, our research shows that Americans continue to put the needs of others first. They are feeling grateful and are staying more connected than ever with their friends and family," said Lisa Sherman, president & CEO of the Ad Council. "We believe that these insights will provide the Ad Council, along with brands, foundations and the media, with a crucial roadmap to help address the most pressing needs of Americans during the pandemic and inform our messaging to the American public in the days and months ahead."

Through social listening analysis and a weekly, nationally representative quantitative survey powered pro bono by research agency C+R Research, the Coping with COVID-19 study takes a deep dive into what Americans feel, fear and need most during this time of crisis.

The new findings highlight how brands, foundations, media and other mission-driven organizations can help address the most pressing needs of Americans during the pandemic.

Additional highlights from the study include:

Most Pressing Worries

When asked about which worries are most critical, responses spanned from financial to health. Americans are most worried about:

  • The economy (69%)
  • The health of medical and other frontline workers (68%)
  • People not taking COVID-19 seriously (66%)
  • The health of friends or family members (53%)
  • The respondents' own health (34%)

There were significant shifts in responses across regions. The Northeast, which over-indexed on those impacted by COVID-19, was most worried of all regions about other people taking the crisis seriously.

Most Pressing Needs

When asked to rate how much they need immediate assistance with various categories, a few items stood out the most for respondents:

  • Getting protective equipment (PPE) like gloves/masks (33%)
  • Peace of mind (i.e., knowing or feeling comfortable and/or stable) (29%)
  • General financial assistance due to loss of income (24%)

Unanswered Questions

When asked where they still need more information around the crisis, there were a few notable findings:

  • 4 in 10 respondents want more clarity on what's true and what's false about COVID-19.
  • A third of respondents want more information on how to help or support healthcare workers.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say they need more information on when the COVID-19 crisis will end.
  • Over half (59 %) want to know when a vaccine will be available.


In the midst of these fears and despite social distancing, Americans are staying connected more now than before the pandemic began. In the past week:

  • 87 percent of respondents reported being about the same or more "in touch" (in person or via phone/text/other means) with family members compared to the week before.
  • 74 percent report being the same or more in touch with friends.

Emotional Health/Feelings

When asked about the emotions they've experienced over the last week, feelings of aggression and anger were at the bottom of the list, while positive emotions were most reported.

  • 53 percent of respondents report feeling grateful¬†
  • While 38 percent report feeling hopeful

The research is an extension of the Ad Council's ongoing efforts to ensure the American public is receiving critical and vetted COVID-19 information. The national nonprofit recently launched a suite of PSAs and multi-channel assets alongside the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and leaders across the media, marketing, advertising, technology and entertainment industries who generously provided their talents and platforms to support Ad Council's COVID-19 response efforts.

In partnership with C+R Research, the Ad Council surveyed a nationally representative population of 1,000 English-speaking adults ages 18+ across the United States online between April 3 and April 5, 2020. The age, gender, ethnicity, region, household composition and income of respondents were matched to U.S. Census statistics. Findings were additionally supported through social listening analysis.

Over the next four weeks, the Ad Council will continue to field this research, tracking top shifts in the data as they evolve during this time. The weekly reports will be available at