Over Half of Americans Say This Is Their Biggest Concern About the Pandemic

Health concerns are taking a backseat to this issue, which many Americans say is even more pressing.

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As coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the United States, public health is at the forefront of many people's minds. However, new research suggests that for most Americans, it's still taking a backseat to yet another concern spurred by the pandemic: the recovery of the U.S. economy.

According to the results of The Harris Poll's COVID-19 Tracker for the week ending July 4, 88 percent of Americans said they were primarily concerned about the U.S. economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, compared with the 84 percent who said they were worried about the health of the American people in general.

black or african-american man using a calculator to make a bill payment
Shutterstock/Daxiao Productions

It's no wonder economic concerns are so pressing at the moment: According to an April 21 report from the Pew Research Center, 43 percent of Americans said that they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut during the pandemic; that number jumped to 52 percent among lower-income households. What's worse, just 23 percent of lower-income households and 48 percent of middle-income households said they had enough money saved to cover their expenses for three months. As of May 2020, more than 20.5 million Americans were unemployed, with a total unemployment rate of 13 percent—significantly higher than the 10.6 percent unemployment rate during the peak of the Great Recession.

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However, it's not just the personal financial impact of the economic downturn that may be causing such concern about the economy—experts say there's an emotional component, too.

"That's why people care more about the economy right now; salary, inflation, debt, and limitations on activities are all issues that can be concretely, directly felt by the average person," explains Patricia Celan, MD, a psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University. "On the other hand, health issues such as coronavirus may seem more abstract if someone isn't directly impacted."

Surprisingly enough, more Harris Poll respondents said they were worried about the economy than their personal health—something only 77 percent of those polled expressed concern about.

"If coronavirus takes up to two weeks to show symptoms, people don't worry about it as much as their inability to pay their bills at the present moment," explains Celan. "People tend to believe they are invincible and are unlikely to experience a particular health problem—until it happens." And if you want to protect yourself, These Are the Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus, Doctors Say.

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