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A Year in Review: Living through a pandemic

May 19, 2021
GroupSolver COVID Pulse Check One Year Review

How COVID opinions, emotions, and lifestyles have changed

It’s been over a year since the first lockdown began and most of us have significantly adjusted our lives to meet the needs of the pandemic. Today, social distancing and mask wearing are part of our daily routines. However, last year these unfamiliar practices incited uncertainty and fear in our lives. GroupSolver® has been running frequent pulse checks throughout this time that tap into feelings about COVID-19 and living in the pandemic. Now, we are comparing the feelings from one of our first pulse checks on April 16, 2020 to our most recent pulse check on April 19, 2021 to see how things have changed.

Level of concern with COVID has gone down, but people are still worried

Respondents rated their concern about COVID-19 on a scale from 1 (not at all concerned) to 10 (extremely concerned). Our early pulse check in April 2020 showed that, on average, people rated their concern at 7.7. This concern rating has gone down in 2021, now displaying an average concern rating at 6.8. Although the rating has dropped, people are still substantially concerned about the virus. Many continue to worry about the virus because of “people not taking it seriously” (83%) and have “concern for [their] loved ones” (89%).

COVID Concern Index Graph

GroupSolver IdeaCloud™ about covid concern
IdeaCloud™ from April 19, 2021

The road back to normalcy: Predictions on lasting impacts and when life will return to “normal”

A year ago, 81% of respondents believed that the pandemic would have continued and significant impact on how we live our lives even after we return to normal. That percentage has dropped 13% since then, with 68% of respondents in 2021 continuing to believe there will be a lasting and significant impact on our lives. This could be due to the fact that we have more hope for normalcy now, as vaccines are now widely available and certain restrictions are starting to lift. But it is still evident that not all of us think we will walk away from the pandemic unaffected.

Graph about COVID significant impact

In April 2020, respondents predicted that life would return to normal within 12 weeks from that point in time (around July 9, 2020). However, people today predict that it will take 30 more weeks (around November 15, 2021) until we return to normal. Perhaps people have more realistic expectations now that they have witnessed the effects the pandemic has had on our society. Or perhaps we’ve turned cynical.

COVID expected number of weeks before normal

Rising case numbers: You most likely know someone who has tested positive

When coronavirus first emerged in the United States, we all probably heard about a “friend of a friend” testing positive. The idea of someone having COVID felt distant to some of us. Now, however, many likely know several people who have had it. 76% of people in April 2020 did not know anyone who contracted COVID-19. Now, only 36% of people still do not know anyone who has tested positive. In addition, 30% of people today know a family member who had the virus, while only 5% of people in April 2020 had a family member who contracted COVID. This data is not too surprising considering the total case numbers then versus now. On April 16, 2020, there were 672,355 total cases in the United States. As of April 19, 2021, there are 31,599,934 total cases. The odds of knowing someone who has contracted COVID have significantly increased since April 2020.

Graph about COVID cases

Employment status: Older Americans are forced into early retirement

Looking at employment, the most dramatic change since last year is retirement. Many older Americans have been prematurely pushed out of the workforce due to the pandemic and economic crisis, forcing them to retire early. In April 2020, 16% of respondents indicated that they were retired. Today, 39% of respondents indicate they are retired. Also, full-time employment has gone down by 7%. Last year, 34% of respondents were working full-time positions. This year, 27% are working full-time. This decrease may account for those who retired, those who lost their job, and those who had their hours reduced due to COVID.

COVID employment status graph

Hope for the future

Our attitudes and daily lives have certainly changed since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, our behaviors and daily practices may be forever altered by this historical pandemic. Thankfully, however, there is new hope about the future and a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. As of May 9th, 34.4% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated and this number continues to rise. We are finally on the road back to what we once knew as “normal”. Although there is still substantial concern surrounding this virus, we are heading in a direction where COVID-19 may be a topic of the past—or at least not the biggest concern in our lives.

Check out our recent infographic exploring this data on our LinkedIn.

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