New Survey Finds Half of All Americans in Financial Turmoil Due to COVID-19

Young woman with braided hair sitting by the table, looking on her smart phone.
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Young woman with braided hair sitting by the table, looking on her smart phone.

A new survey finds that 63% of Americans who’ve contracted COVID-19 complain of “serious financial problems” — and even those who haven’t gotten sick are struggling. Forty-six percent of households in the U.S. face depleted savings, trouble paying bills and affording medical care due to the virus. In the largest cities, that number rises to at least half: New York (53%), Los Angeles (56%), Chicago (50%) and Houston (63%).

The first in a new series presented by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the survey interviewed 3,454 adults. Although the country is still waiting on a vaccine, results of the poll were far worse than Robert J. Blendon, emeritus professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard who worked on the survey, anticipated.

“This is what I would expect without a national emergency relief bill,” Blendon told NPR. “We had a $2 trillion relief bill to lift people up and put a pillow under them. But it is not helping nearly as many people as we had expected.”

Blendon painted a bleak picture for the future, stating, “It’s going to get worse because there is nothing for the people we surveyed who earn under $100,000 a year to fall back on.”

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In addition to economic stress, the poll suggests hardship for families forced to acclimate to an increasingly digital life. The survey found that roughly 1 in 3 households (34%) either lacked a high-speed internet connection at home or had serious problems with their connection while performing remote job or school duties.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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