Health Concerns Higher Among Hispanics and Blacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to climb in the United States — the current epicenter of the global pandemic — majorities of Americans are concerned that they may contract the disease and that they may unknowingly spread it to others, according to a a new Pew Research Center survey

The survey, conducted April 7-12 among 4,917 U.S. adults on Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that these concerns are much more widespread among black and Hispanic adults than white adults. And there also are differences in concerns across income levels: A third of Americans with lower incomes say they are very concerned they will get COVID-19 and require hospitalization. Among upper-income adults, only about half as many (17%) are very concerned.

Among other key findings:

Among the public overall, 55% say they are very or somewhat concerned they will get COVID-19 and require hospitalization; nearly a quarter (24%) are very concerned. Much larger shares of Hispanic (43%) and black (31%) adults than white adults (18%) say they are very concerned about contracting COVID-19. 

Hispanic and black adults are also more likely to be very concerned about unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others. Nearly half (49%) of Hispanic adults say they are very concerned about this, compared with 38% of black adults and 28% of white adults. 

There also are sharp racial disparities in personal experiences with knowing people who have had serious illnesses arising from COVID-19. About a quarter of black adults (27%) say they personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died due to having the coronavirus. By comparison, about 1-in-10 white (13%) and Hispanic (13%) adults say they know someone who has been so seriously affected by the virus.

The survey also asks about the priority for critical care if the availability of ventilators became limited in some hospitals. Among the public overall, 50% say the priority for critical care in that case should be given “to patients who are most at need in the moment.” Nearly as many (45%) say the priority should be for giving critical care to “patients who are most likely to recover with treatment.” 

There are substantial age differences among these opinions: Adults under age 30 are the only age group in which a majority (58%) says the priority for critical care should be patients with the best chance of recovery. Those ages 30 to 49 are divided, while a majority of those ages 50 and older (57%) say the priority should be for patients most in need at the moment.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points for results based on the full sample.

Read the full report: