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COVID-19 Insights Center
Civis Data Science | 5.14.20

COVID-19 Impact Research

Consumer Insights
Team Civis

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Civis Analytics is conducting ongoing research to study the social, economic and educational impacts of COVID-19 in America. Research is conducted at a national level as well as deep dives in Washington, Texas, Florida, and New York.

Survey Fielded May 8-10, 2020


National Highlights


Looking towards the next school year, Americans are most supportive of determining students’ grade placements based on their performance as of March. 57.4% support this measure, compared to 40.7% support promoting all students to the next grade regardless of performance and only 18.3% support having all students repeat their current grade.

As for changes to the current school year, the most popular option was cancelling all standardized tests for the remainder of the year, with 60.0% support. Following close behind, 57.9% of Americans support providing summer school once it’s safe to do so. Support for these policies has remained steady since the questions were first asked in mid-April.

88.9% of parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade report that their children’s school has been suspended or canceled as a result of coronavirus. Of parents with children who were affected by school closures, 93.5% report that their children are completing educational activities at home.

Overall, 56.4% of parents report that the school or teachers typically plan their children’s educational activity, while 26.7% report this planning is done by a parent or guardian. However, parents with household incomes between $50k and $75k report teachers playing a larger role, with 64.8% reporting teachers as the primary planners. On the flip side, parents earning more than $150k appear to be playing a larger role in their childrens’ learning, with 33.5% reporting that a parent plays the primary role in planning.

Who typically plans the educational activities that your children complete at home during closure?

Margin of error = 3%; N = 1701

Educational Activities

92% of parents report that their children have a dedicated device for at-home educational activities. 74% report that their children have access to a laptop or desktop for learning, 46% to a tablet or iPad, and 42% to a smartphone. Looking at surveys fielded April 24-26 and May 8-10 (for a larger sample size):

  • 72% of parents with a household income less than $50,000 report that their children have access to a laptop or desktop for learning, compared to 79% of parents with a household income of more than $100,000.
  • Children in households with an income above $100,000 are also more likely to have access to a tablet or iPad (49%), compared to 40% of children in households with an income of less than $50,000.

Over time, parents have been spending less time accessing information to support their children’s learning.  The portion of parents accessing materials multiple times a day has steadily declined, down to 26.1% in early May compared to 31.7% in early April. Additionally, slightly more parents are accessing information at a weekly cadence, up to 11.5% in early May compared to 7.3% in early April.

Social media, blogs, and forums remain important resources for parents — about 20% rely on them to support their children’s learning.

K12 Frequency

15% of parents don’t think their children will be prepared for school next year. This is more pronounced among middle class families (roughly a fifth of parents in the $75k – $100k range feel this way).

43% of parents are reporting a change in their child’s post high school plan. 44% of parents also report that their high school children plan to go to a 4-year school, down about 8% from April 2-4.

43% of white parents of high school students report that their children’s plans have changed, compared to 59% of Black parents, and 61% of Hispanic/Latinx parents.

Postsecondary Plan Changes


Disease Tracking

Based on the latest CDC guidance, 35.1% of Americans have experienced symptoms that are linked to COVID-19 in the last month. This could include any one of or a combination: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. 28.0% of Americans have had one or more of these symptoms in the last week.

Donating and Volunteering Behavior

23.1% of respondents nationally report donating in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and 11.4% report volunteering.

Of those who donated, hunger relief funds were the most common option (35.9%), followed by previously supported organizations (27.5%), and health care or medical services (26.9%), and people are donating an average of $264. Compared to the previous wave, we do see an uptick in donations, particularly for previously supported organizations (27.6%, up from 20.7% two weeks ago). This may be driven by Giving Tuesday Now activity on May 4, so it will be interesting to see if donations continue to increase at a similar rate moving forward.

Of those who volunteered, 40.0% reported volunteering for food or grocery supply or delivery, 29.7% reported making face masks, and 26.1% reported assisting elderly or at-risk individuals.

Of those who have not donated nor volunteered, 48.1% say they haven’t because they don’t have the money, and 19.3% said they don’t have the time. 24.9% also cite not being asked as a reason why they haven’t donated or volunteered.


Have you donated or volunteered in response to the Coronavirus pandemic? Select all that apply.

Margin of error = 1.4%; N = 7922

Volunteering or Donating

When asked if they agree or disagree with the statement “I feel confident that when I donate money now, it is being put to good use,” 53.6% strongly or somewhat agree, compared to 27.0% who strongly or somewhat disagree. We see similar numbers when they are asked about the statement “I think I can make a meaningful difference by donating money or volunteering my time right now” (53.5% agree, 27.9% disagree).

Concern about Coronavirus

We continue to see that concern levels are decreasing over time, from 56.4% very concerned at the beginning of April (April 2-4) to 43.0% very concerned now in early May (May 8-10).

Level of Concern

There is also a downward trend in those who “definitely” intend to stay at home and avoid all non-essential contact with others (55.3% nationally this week, compared to 68.9% in early April).

Plans to stay home

We are also continuing to see more people leave their home for essential activities. 5% more of Americans have left their home at least once in the last two weeks to pick up a take-out food order (68.9% up from 64.0% in mid-April [April 17-19]).

American leaving home for essentials

Contact Tracing

Americans are also slightly less willing to sign up for a contact tracing phone app or share personal contact information of people they’ve been near if they test positive for COVID-19 compared to two weeks ago (April 23). We’ll keep an eye on this in future waves to confirm if this develops into a consistent trend.

Contact Tracing 1

Contact Tracing 2

Government Priorities

As we noticed in the last wave, though Coronavirus is still a clear priority (60% of Americans label it a “critical priority”), there continues to be a trend of opinions shifting from considering Coronavirus and immediate related topics as a “critical priority” to a “high priority” (that same metric was 73% of Americans in the beginning of April). One shift upwards that we see this week is that diplomatic tension between the US and China seems to be picking up slightly higher prioritization, which we’ll keep an eye on in future weeks to see if the trend continues. However, US-China tension is not top of mind for most Americans; only 22% consider it a critical priority, and 44% consider it a high priority.


Attitudes Towards/Economic Impact of COVID-19

Job security continues to be a pressing issue; 35% of employed Americans think it is likely that they will lose their job in the next three months. However, this concern is not shared equally among all Americans.

  • 32% of employed white Americans think it is likely that they will lose their job, compared to 45% of employed Black Americans and 40% of employed Hispanic/Latinx Americans. This corresponds to the latest unemployment data showing higher jobless claims from Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans.

Overall concern levels are decreasing over time, from 56% very concerned at the beginning of April to 43% very concerned in early May. There is also a downward trend in those who definitely intend to stay at home and avoid all non-essential contact with others (55%, compared to 69% in early April).

  • Of the four focus states, New Yorkers are especially concerned (51%) and intend to stay at home (61%) more than the overall US population.

When looking for information regarding COVID-19, respondents report trusting their physicians (79%), local (73%) and Federal (71%) public health officials the most. Personal networks (family, friends, and acquaintances) are close behind (70%).


Attitudes Concern Level

Social Impact of Coronavirus

  • Employed mothers are around 60% more likely to report taking a primary role in caring for their children or educating their children at home than employed fathers (53% vs 33% for caring for children; 60% to 36% for educating children at home).
  • We do see more parity in playing with and entertaining children; 47% of employed mothers and 53% of employed fathers report sharing that role equally with their partners.
  • However, the heavier responsibility of children for working mothers is not alleviated by a smaller burden in working to support the family. 54% of employed mothers and 41% of employed fathers report that they share an equal responsibility to work to support their family with their spouse or partner.

Spouse who does more


Responses were gathered through online web panels and weighted to accurately reflect the entire adult U.S. population. Questions were fielded May 8-10, 2020 (7,922 respondents).


Download Quick Takes From Prior Waves

Deep dive analysis is available at a national level and starting in Wave 4, for certain states.

May 08-10, 2020:      National | Florida | New York | Washington | Texas

April 23-26, 2020:     National | Florida | New York | Washington

April 17-19, 2020:     National

April 10-12, 2020:     National

April 02-04, 2020:     National


Click Here to View and Download All Toplines From Prior Waves >> 


This data has been shared with the Understanding Coronavirus in America Study led by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.