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U.S. opinions on the coronavirus affecting families and communities as of Jan. 2020

As of January 2020, almost one-half of adults in the United States thought it was very unlikely that a family member would be affected by the coronavirus. At the same time, approximately one-third of respondents believed it was somewhat likely that somebody in their state would be infected.

Will the virus impact the lives of Americans?

According to the poll of 2,200 adults, 25 percent of respondents considered the new coronavirus to be more concerning than the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 – this share increased to 27 percent for male respondents but dropped to 23 percent for females. As of mid-July 2020, the United States had recorded more than three million cases of COVID-19, and the spread of the virus is showing no signs of slowing down.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases

Understanding how the new coronavirus is spreading from person to person is key to its containment. The coronavirus that caused the emergence of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was spread through the air in small droplets produced when an infected person coughed or sneezed. A person may also contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface. To prevent the spread of the virus, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands, clean surfaces with disinfectant, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

Opinions on the likelihood of the new coronavirus affecting families and communities in the U.S. as of January 2020

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Release date

January 2020


United States

Survey time period

January 24 to 26, 2020

Number of respondents

2,200 respondents

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

Original question: "In your view, how likely is it that someone in the following will be affected with the coronavirus? (Your family, your local community, your state)"

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