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STUDY: 40% Of Americans Will Avoid Public After Pandemic Ends
Man with mask looking out of window
Justin Paget / Getty Images

Even when states fully lift their stay-at-home edicts, nearly half of Americans are going to continue to hunker down.

Some 40% of Americans plan to avoid public spaces unless “absolutely necessary,” even long after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, a new study commissioned by Vital Vio found.

The survey asked 1,000 U.S. adults how they see life after the coronavirus. More than four in five (82%) “said they are now more aware of, and concerned about, cleaning protocols in public areas,” StudyFinds reported. “Additionally, 58% are more suspicious about their friends’ and family’s hygiene habits. Next year’s Thanksgiving could get interesting.”

Even among those who said they will return to public spaces eventually, it isn’t going to happen immediately. A third will wait a few weeks, and 26% will wait one or two months. Some respondents (16%) went so far as to say that they’re unsure if they’ll ever feel comfortable out in public again.

“While COVID-19 conversations have started shifting from shutting down to reopening the country, the truth is that we’re far from normal life,” Colleen Costello, CEO and co-founder of Vital Vio, tells StudyFinds. “In fact, our report spotlights how Americans’ heightened germ concerns could push them to avoid social interactions and public spaces unless absolutely necessary, even after it’s deemed safe by the government.”

“Over a third of Americans (35%) are most worried about visiting restaurants or retail stores, while 27% are more worried about public transit,” StudyFinds reports.

Many of the survey’s participants said they worry about bringing groceries, packages and mail into their homes. Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) clean those items with disinfectant before bringing them inside.

That might explain why those shelves at the grocery store are always empty.

So, with our newfound national obsession with germs comes increased interest in cleaning products. A total of 83% of Americans are inclined to buy more chemical cleaners and disinfectants. Interestingly, younger respondents (ages 18-34) indicated they’re especially curious about new ways of cleaning, such as air filters (43%) and UV light sanitizers (21%).

“For the foreseeable future, our ‘new normal’ will likely mean more aware and cautious citizens – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’ll push businesses and public environments to become cleaner and individuals to be better about personal hygiene,” Costello said. “However, it’s important that Americans stay informed about the facts – understanding, at a high level, the science behind disease spread, and the simple steps they can take every day as well as technologies available to protect themselves and their families.”

But delightful spring weather over the weekend showed many Americans are ready to get back outside. New York City’s Central Park was packed, which irked Cleavon Gilman, who works at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights.

“16,000 New Yorkers dead in eight weeks! This is a SLAP in the face to healthcare providers nationwide risking their lives and dying on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m in Central Park right now and it’s business as usual,” he wrote on Twitter.

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