Poll: Americans are Leaving Home More Often Now Than in April as States Ease Social Distancing Restrictions, though Coronavirus Fears Remain

Most People Who Put Off Getting Dental or Medical Care Due to Coronavirus Expect to Get It Soon

As states continue to ease social distancing restrictions, Americans are leaving their homes more often to shop, visit close family and friends and go to work than they did in April in spite of their concerns about contracting coronavirus, the latest KFF tracking poll finds.

The poll finds 9 in 10 (89%) adults say they left their home to shop for food, medicine, or essential household items in the past week, including 61% who say they did this multiple times – up from 44% in April.

Just over half (54%) say they left home to visit close friends or family in the past week, up from 30% in April. Less than half (45%) say they went to work in the past week, up from 33% in April. About three in ten (29%) report dining at a restaurant in the past week, while few (7%) rode on public transportation.

Many of those who report leaving their homes to engage in these activities are at least somewhat worried that they may expose themselves to coronavirus in the process. For example, almost half of those who went shopping (48%) and nearly as many (44%) who went to work say they are worried about exposure to the virus.

The poll continues to find partisan differences in how Americans are reacting the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to leave their homes to engage in some of these activities, while Democrats are more likely to worry about exposure to the virus while doing so.

For example, Republicans are more likely to report leaving their homes to go to work in the past week (49%, compared to 37% of Democrats). Among those who went to work, Democrats are more likely to say they are worried about coronavirus exposure (62%, compared to 42% of independents and 32% of Republicans).

Republicans also are twice as likely to say they ate at a restaurant at least once in the past week (46%, compared to 21% of Democrats).

The poll also probes into how the pandemic is affecting Americans’ use of medical and dental services. The share of the public who say they or a family member has skipped or delayed care in the past month has not changed much since our May poll. Half (52%) of the public says they or someone in their family has skipped or delayed getting medical or dental care because of coronavirus this month – similar to the share who said so last month (48%).

The types of care most often put off include dental check-ups and procedures (37% of all adults) and regular check-ups or physical exams (30% of all adults). Fewer report skipping or postponing doctor visits for symptoms they were experiencing (15% of all adults), doctor visits for chronic conditions (13%) or preventive screenings (12%).

There are some signs that people are beginning to catch up on their care skipped because of coronavirus, including 7% who say they or their family member have already gotten the care they initially delayed. An additional 70% say they expect to catch up on the missed care within three months, including a third (34%) who expect to get the care within a month. Very few (2%) say they don’t expect to get the care that was skipped or postponed.

When asked why the coronavirus pandemic led them to skip or postpone care, people most often say that the doctor’s office or facility was closed or offering limited appointments (43% of all adults). Many (27% of all adults) say that they felt unsafe visiting a doctor’s office or other medical facility during the outbreak.

More than a quarter of those who say they or a family member skipped or postponed care because of coronavirus (27%, or 14% of all adults) say their or their family member’s condition worsened as a result.

The poll looks ahead to the presidential election in November and examines how voters view the biggest problems facing the country, and which presidential candidate they trust most to handle them.

When asked about who they most trust on various issues, more voters say presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden than President Donald Trump on health care (53% vs. 38%) and coronavirus (50% vs. 41%). President Trump holds a narrow trust edge on the economy (49% vs. 44%), while former Vice President Biden leads on other issues including maintaining law and order (51% vs. 41%), police violence (55% vs. 36%), and race relations (58% vs. 34%).

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the poll was conducted June 8-14 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,296 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (297) and cell phone (999). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.