One Year Later: The Data That Illustrates How American Life Has Changed During the Pandemic

895,400 respondents in over 400 surveys capture the ways people have adjusted to living with the virus
March 09, 2021 at 12:01 am UTC

Thursday marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, a global pandemic. In that period, the virus has drastically changed the American public’s consumer habits and remade entire industries. 

Since the pandemic was declared, Morning Consult has fielded more than 400 surveys, gathering roughly 895,400 responses on topics related to business, finance and government. Our year in review, inspired by The New York Times, curates the data that has defined the ways the pandemic has altered Americans’ way of life and their views of their world.


Comfort levels with shopping malls

Consumers’ comfort levels with returning to shopping malls stagnated through most of 2020, but as more Americans received vaccines in early 2021, comfort levels have been ticking up.


Staycations had their moment

By August, 26% of U.S. adults had taken a staycation during the pandemic, with 40% saying they plan to take one soon. 58% said they would plan one even after the virus is under control.


Online dating

71% of dating app users said in February 2021 that they’re logging on more amid the pandemic. Stigma over using the apps has also declined: The public is more likely to say they feel positively about dating apps and services than negatively (38% vs. 32%).


Premium product purchases

41% of U.S. adults said in June that they are buying fewer premium goods.


Share who said they’ll get vaccinated

Roughly 7 in 10 said in March 2020 they’d undergo inoculation, a figure that fell as low as 48% in October and rebounded slightly to 62% in February. Attitudes among Black adults are even more pronounced, dipping as low as 26% in October before rising to 60% in February.


Mental health

37% of adults said in October that their daily lives have gotten worse during the pandemic, while 19% said their lives have gotten better and 38% reported no change. Urban adults are more likely than those in rural areas to report improvements to their relationships, finances and health during COVID-19.


Support for Medicare for All and the Affordable Care Act

In April, 55% of voters supported Medicare for All, its highest level since June 2019, when 54% backed the plan. By September, a record-high 62% of voters supported the Affordable Care Act, including 85% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans.


Health care visits

68% of adults said in October they would likely see their primary care doctor during the pandemic, up from 65% in July and 39% in April.


Telehealth use

By September 2020, telehealth services made up about 5% of private medical claims, up from 0.16 percent a year earlier, a 2,980% percent increase.


Movie theater foot traffic

Movie theater foot traffic tanked last year, with most movie theaters closed across the country, and has yet to recover, due in part to consumer comfort, which has also failed to rebound.


Kids’ screen time and parents’ acceptance of children’s screen time

In an August survey, 60% of parents said their children had been spending three hours or fewer on devices before the pandemic, but 70% said their kids were now spending at least four hours on devices. Of the 50% of parents who said in August their view of screen time had changed amid the pandemic, most said they view it more positively now.


Programming plots that included COVID-19

TV shows that mentioned the pandemic were scarce through most of 2020, but by December, 54% of U.S. adults have watched a program that mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic or incorporated the pandemic into the show’s plot.


Sports viewership

About 1 in 3 self-identified casual sports fans said in December that they have been watching sports less often than before the pandemic. Of those, 17% cited politics and social justice demonstrations for the decline.


Comfort among sports fans in attending a sporting event

No more than one-quarter of sports fans said they feel safe going to a sporting event during weekly surveys conducted from July to mid-January. More recently, however, comfort levels have been rising.


Republican sentiment toward the NFL

In August, the NFL’s net favorability rating among Republicans dipped below 10 percentage points for the first time since 2018, but that figure has since been creeping back up.


Youth sports enrollment

38% of youth sports programs said in April 2020 that they can survive for three months at most. Roughly half of parents said they’re less likely to enroll their kids in sports in wake of the pandemic.


Joe Biden’s popularity

Joe Biden grew increasingly popular over the past year, with his favorability rating beginning to rise around the time he accepted his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention, and the upward swing continuing into his first months as president.


Republican trust in U.S. elections

The share of Republican voters who trust the U.S. elections system fell by more than 30 points to 34% after President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden.


Net approval of the CDC’s handling of COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enjoyed a net approval rating of 63 in March 2020 in Morning Consult’s first survey on COVID-related concerns but dropped to the mid-40s in late May, where it stands today.


Clean energy workforce

The clean energy workforce was expected to grow by 5.3% this year, but it has instead shrunk by roughly 12%. Biden is expected to invest in the industry in the coming years, which experts say will help fuel a rebound in how many people it employs


Concern over climate change’s correlation with mask wearing

Climate-concerned adults in an April survey were 24 points more likely to always wear a mask in public spaces than those unconcerned with climate change.


Concerns about COVID-19’s impact on the economy

Roughly 4 in 5 Americans said in December that they’re concerned about the U.S. economy, about the same as the share who said they’re concerned about their local economy.


The financial impact of COVID-19 on millennials compared to that of other generations

Nearly 2 in 5 millennials in September said the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on their current financial situation.


Bipartisan support for economic stimulus packages

7 in 10 Democrats in February strongly backed the enactment of a new stimulus package, including 60% of Republicans who supported it in general. Among all registered voters, 76% support a new economic stimulus package.


Low-income workers’ income losses

Pay and income losses among low-income adults during the pandemic will continue exerting downward pressure on labor costs and inflation throughout 2021.


Zoom, TikTok, Amazon Shopping app downloads

Since March 2020, a range of apps have gained and then lost popularity among Americans.


Belief in QAnon

18% of those who had heard of QAnon in January said they believed the group’s claims were at least somewhat accurate, down 6 points since October. 24% of Republicans who had heard of QAnon said they believe QAnon’s claims, a 14-point decrease from the 38% who said the same in October.


Views of Big Tech’s power and reach

55% of the public said in December that the tech sector has “a lot” of power in the United States — the third-highest share among a list of 12 sectors included in the poll. But, despite the growing dependence on tech this year, the share who said the sector has “a lot” of power is virtually unchanged from a December 2019 survey posing the same question.


Joanna Piacenza contributed.

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