Behaviors National changes Social Distancing

Protective measures in the US

While quite a bit of research has reported which COVID19 policies work and don’t work on a country or state-level, VERY little peer-reviewed research has reported what individuals are doing to curb spread. In other words, are individuals conforming with the recommended protective health measures?

A study was just published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Scientists used data from the COVID19 Impact Survey. This survey was designed carefully to pick a random set of households in the US to participate. They did this extra work so the results of the study could be generalized to the entire U.S. (instead of just one state/city or type of state/city). This survey was done three consecutive times (April, May, and June of 2020) and 25,269 people participated.

What did they find?

  • In the United States, 95% wash their hands, 90% kept 6 feet away, 86% wore a mask, and 82% avoided crowded places (Figure 1)
  • Of 19 protective measures, an average of 7 protective measures were taken
  • Who took protective measures more? Higher incomes, insurance, higher education levels, large household size, age 60+, females, minorities, those who have asthma, have hypertension, overweight or obese, and those who suffer from mental health issues during the pandemic
  • Who took protective measures less? Suburban and rural areas, and the Midwest and West
  • People who wore masks increased from April to June 2020 (Figure 2)
  • Participants who were positive for COVID19, knew an individual with COVID19, or knew someone who died from COVID19 had a stricter lifestyle. This was especially true regarding washing hands, avoiding public places, and canceling social events.
  • Some protective measures are linked to others (Figure 3)

Now, what people say they do may be different from what they actually do. However, this still makes my little epidemiologist heart happy. People know the social desirability of our community, which lines up with effective protective measures. Also, this data uncovers patterns that would otherwise have been obscured. Epidemiologists can leverage this knowledge to more quickly and effectively curb COVID19 spread.

I’m hoping that COVID19 Impact Survey’s hard work continues because I would love to see numbers for July-September too.

Love, YLE


COVID19 Impact Survey:

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