Census taking nation’s pulse on coronavirus

The U.S. Census Bureau is now using an experimental Household Pulse Survey to explore the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on American families.

WASHINGTON DC – Along with its usual once-a-decade headcount of residents in America, the U.S. Census Bureau is now using an experimental Household Pulse Survey to collect real-time data on how people’s lives have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Census Bureau plans to release data on differing topics gathered by its pulse surveys on a weekly basis through July, according to Census communication specialist Jane Callen. The first installment of the survey’s results confirms that many American households have experienced income losses during the pandemic. Many survey respondents also expressed concern about food security and access to health care.

Across the nation, 47 percent of adults 18 or older reported that they or another member of their household had lost income due to the coronavirus outbreak since Mar. 13. Among Utahns responding to the pulse survey, 44 percent reported losing income.

About 10% of U.S. adults reported that they are not getting enough food due to the pandemic. Slightly fewer Utahns (9.7 percent) gave a similar response to the pulse survey.

In terms of the pandemic’s impact on mental health issues, about 30 percent of U.S. adults reported being anxious or nervous more than half the time in the past week. About 20 percent of adults reported feelings of depression or indifference about normal activities. The Census did not provide Utah comparison data for these questions.

Due to the stresses that the pandemic has placed on the local health care services, nearly 39 percent of U.S. adults reported that they delayed getting medical care in the past four weeks. A slightly larger percentage of Utahns (40 percent) reported having delayed seeking health care.

Nearly 11 percent of U.S. adults reported that they are unable to make rent or mortgage payments due to the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus. More than 15 percent of Utahns reported experiencing similar insecurities about housing expenses.

Based on both national and Utah pulse survey responses, virtually all households with children enrolled in public or private school (K-12) have experienced the impact of school closings due to the coronavirus. According to national responses, adults in those households spent an average of 13 hours on home-schooling activities during the past seven days.

This first round of pulse survey results is based on online survey invitations sent to 1.8 million U.S. households in the period April 23 to May 5, according to Callen. The Census Bureau received nearly 75,000 complete or partial survey responses.

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