Here's How Coronavirus Is Already Affecting Americans Across The Country

From the office to the grocery store, many Americans are seeing a sharp change to their daily lives.

Across much of the U.S., daily life has already been affected by efforts to stem the rapidly growing outbreak of coronavirus cases.

The share of coronavirus cases remains, in relative terms, a tiny fraction of the American public. And only 2% of Americans have tried to receive coronavirus test and been unable to get one, according to a new NPR/PBS/NewsHour/Marist poll. But social distancing and other precautionary measures have been much more common: 30% had changed travel plans, 42% had stocked up on food or supplies, 46% of Americans had decided to eat at home more often and 48% had cancelled plans to avoid crowds. A third of currently employed Americans had changed their work routine, and 18% had seen reduced hours or been let go.

In two surveys HuffPost conducted with YouGov over the course of the past week, we asked Americans across the country to tell us about any ways the outbreak was already affecting them. Their answers range in scope and severity, from serious concerns about life and livelihood to mild regrets over canceled plans. Some expressed annoyance at what they saw as a media-fueled overreaction. But taken as a whole, the responses show how far-reaching the impact has been in just a few days. Here’s a sampling of some of the responses, lightly edited for clarity and length.


“I have been feeling sick, but can’t get tested. I’m especially worried because I am over 60 and I have an autoimmune disorder ― the medication I am on suppresses my immune system.” ― 60-year woman


 “Quarantining a 74-year-old relative recovering from surgery, with lung issues.” ― 27-year old woman


“I’m a food server, and we have lost tons of reservations and may close down for a month.” ― 26-year-old man

“Not the virus itself, but the effects of the panic surrounding the virus. My local grocery stores are out of toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer and they are running out of food items.” ― 54-year-old woman


“As a teacher, my district has closed all schools and we are going to be working, but in an empty school and on administrative tasks instead of actually teaching. I’m worried about the safety of my students while they’re out of school, as well as the disruption to instruction.” ― 29-year-old woman

“My husband works in the airline industry, which is struggling right now. We fear for layoffs.” ― 47-year-old woman


“My kids are home from school for weeks and no babysitter. One of us needs to take a leave from work.” ― 43-year-old man

“I was laid off from my job about six weeks ago. I believe it may be tougher to find a job with the state of mind companies will have now.” ― 59-year-old man

“Self-quarantining after travel in Indonesia. My boyfriend also has to go home to California because his college may close and it’ll suck if I can’t see him. So nothing drastic, but it does affect me.” ― 18-year old woman


“I am a K-12 music teacher and my school’s musicals have been postponed.” ― 26-year-old woman

District of Columbia

“My office has moved to full remote. I’ve stocked up food and have been social distancing, so I am limiting my social interactions. I’m not going to become a hermit, but it’s hard to imagine going to the gym, being in crowded places, so I will limit that. And that will change my life considerably. But it’s important.” ― 44-year-old woman


“College classes now virtual, children’s school canceled, supermarket stocks sold out, business trip canceled, club/organization meetings restricted or canceled. I am pregnant and care for elderly grandmother, so I am high-risk.” ― 33-year-old woman

“I am a plumber and can no longer have a helper.” ― 52-year-old man

“I have been affected financially as a freelance musician. I have had several jobs cancel due to concerns of the disease and no way to get the money back.” ― 24-year-old woman

“The rehab center where my husband is confined is on lockdown and no visitors are allowed. I believe this is necessary, though difficult for us.” ― 73-year-old woman

“The value of my IRA that I am using for retirement dropped dramatically. My parents are 92 and 88, and I have been frantically shopping for them to ensure they can self-quarantine as needed.” ― 65-year-old man

Lori Harper, manager, wipes down tables in the dining room area of the McDonald's on Prince Street in Beckley Tuesday morning
Lori Harper, manager, wipes down tables in the dining room area of the McDonald's on Prince Street in Beckley Tuesday morning, March 17, 2020. McDonald's closed off the dining section and will provide drive-through service along with walk-in orders placed at the front counter. Customers are not allowed to eat their meals in the restaurant because of the coronavirus. (Rick Barbero/The Register-Herald via AP)


“My kids are on a mandatory extended leave from school. They are young and don’t understand what is actually going on.” ― 26-year-old-woman

“My job as a firefighter is being affected by the panic that the community is in over this. My wife’s job in law enforcement is being affected too.” ― 28-year-old man


“My work at a law office has been very up in the air. I’ve been nervous taking public transportation. Can’t find certain things at the grocery store anymore.” ― 28-year-old woman

“Our county has been ransacked by preppers, leaving shelves utterly devoid of water, paper products, canned goods, etc., thanks to the hysteria of the mainstream media.” ― 56-year-old woman

“Visit to Grandma canceled.” ― 25-year-old man

“On lockdown at the nursing home.” ― 50-year-old man


“I have some sort of respiratory illness right now and my sister and brother-in-law do too and they may need to be hospitalized. We are unsure if it is coronavirus.” ― 40-year-old man


“My place of business will be closing for two weeks. A lot of people will not be paid.” ― 38-year-old woman

“My stocks and bonds have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic panic.” ― 48-year-old man


“I live for sports, especially basketball, so I’m very sad about it being cancelled.” ― 36-year-old woman


“As a senior citizen with health issues, I have taken care to stock my home with needed things for as long as possible to vastly limit outside contact.” ― 72-year-old woman


“My office has closed and I now need to work from home. I need to limit my social contact to protect my 90-year-old grandmother, whom I care for as well.” ― 28-year-old man


“Had some pre-screening for an operation canceled, but still having the surgery.” ― 57-year-old woman


“I was exposed to the virus by someone who had it at CPAC, and had to self-quarantine and get tested.” ― 19-year-old woman


“My dad is getting ready to go on a cruise ship to Greece and I worry he and his wife might get sick or be quarantined when they get back. They are in their 70s.” ― 33-year-old woman


“I can no longer go to my only child’s military graduation. Fort Jackson has shut down all military graduation ceremonies till further notice! They will not be rescheduled. My daughter will just not have one like her father did.” ― 40-year-old woman

New York

“Can’t get groceries. Local stores have bare shelves. I’m less concerned with the virus than I am with starving.” ― 39-year-old woman

“My school has gone to remote classes, which has involved canceling several specific things for my degree (I’m a music major, and all performances are canceled). My travel plans have altered, and my work through my university has been disrupted. My stress levels have increased. It’s dominated my social media and all my conversations in person, making it hard to focus on other things.” ― 20-year-old man

“Self-quarantined because of an immunocompromised spouse. Have had to cancel my medical appointments. Confined to home ... ” ― 70-year-old woman

“Our community has been named a place for SUNY students who studied abroad to come for a 14-day quarantine period. It was a fast announcement and the community had little time to prepare for 20+ exposed or potentially exposed people to be housed here. They are equipped to handle the situation but the community had little fair warning.” ― 46-year-old woman

North Carolina

“I am a coach. My season is suspended.” ― 29-year-old man


“As of today, temporarily out of work as a government consultant.” ― 76-year-old man

“My university is closed through the end of the semester. I will have to take classes online, we most likely will not have a graduation ceremony, and my study abroad trip to Europe this summer is canceled.” ― 21-year-old woman

“The closing of schools has impacted our family schedules. As a pastor I am working to help those affected by the closing of various gatherings. We have also had to modify things in our worship services in order to keep people safe.” ― 36-year-old man

“The shortage of everyday items people are hoarding because they think the world’s ending! We are bound to catch this no matter how safe or prepared you think you are. Just like the flu and cold happen, certain people catch it, while others don’t, so don’t freak out. There are people hoarding baby formula who don’t have kids, and yet I have a 2.5-month-old who is getting low and I’m worried I won’t be able to find it.” ― 27-year-old woman


“Canceled travel plans. Canceled family get-togethers. Stopped going out for two weeks, at least ... even church.” ― 61-year-old man

“Child’s school is closed, husband and I have mandatory work from home. Difficult to care for children and get work done.” ― 34-year-old woman

“We have family members in another household who are presumed positive. Today I tested positive for the flu, so I didn’t have to test for coronavirus. My 14-year-old son is quarantined at my ex-husband’s home and his twin sister is with me because of how our families were informed and notified to quarantine, based on where they happened to be on Monday after school. Now we have to decide if we want to cross-contaminate the households to get them back together. Today was the last day of school statewide for K-12 and the stores have empty shelves in my city so I’m worried about availability of food and basic supplies the next couple of weeks.” ― 47-year-old woman


“I work in the entertainment industry. All of my sources of income have been canceled or postponed.” ― 37-year-old woman

“I’m a nurse practitioner, and it has made it difficult to do my job without worrying about it. But at the same time, I’m glad to see visitation restrictions.” ― 39-year-old woman

My daughter is a server and now there are no customers ― or income.” ― 68-year-old man


“I am a caregiver to my husband who is a stroke survivor. I cannot find basic need items in the store now, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies.” ― 69-year-old woman


“I work for a university ― everyone is in panic mode. It has caused a lot of work for me in coordinating and making sure we have cleaning and safety products available.” ― 53-year-old man


“I am a physician. This puts me and my family in harm’s way, but this is my duty. I am working around the clock to protect my family and community.” ― 42-year-old woman


“I live in Seattle, which has been directly affected. My family has been a little worried about my mom, who’s in good health but is 62 and diabetic. My brother’s bandmate’s roommate works as an EMT and may have contracted the virus. Tensions have sometimes escalated between various family members as a result.” ― 24-year-old woman

West Virginia

“I had to cancel a vacation to a low-risk country at the last minute, and I had to stress about what to do for work because I cannot work from home.” ― 20-year-old woman


“Well, I had to do something I never do. I had to stock up on things to eat, toiletries, first aid supplies, OTC fever and pain relief. Disinfectants, bleach, alcohol, Listerine, Lysol. I didn’t really have money for this but I feel it’s necessary to be ready for anything. Not for me but for my family and extended family.” ― 66-year-old woman

“I’ve been uncharacteristically neurotic: staying home, missing events, avoiding strangers and friends alike, afraid to hug people, and VERY afraid of how billions of other humans will behave because they are uncharacteristically fearful and neurotic. I’m more afraid of societal ramifications than I am of health concerns.” ― 35-year-old woman

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