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Most Americans Expect Life to Never Return to Normal

June 4, 2020
Parenting and work routines are likely to be impacted.

Americans are beginning to accept that life will never be the same once the pandemic is declared over.

The Harris Poll recently conducted a survey on behalf of the University of Phoenix that asked U.S. adults about the coronavirus outbreak and the lasting impressions shelter-in-place orders and illness prevention methods will have in the future. The results revealed that 86% of Americans were "concerned" about the outcome of the pandemic on their everyday lives.

Dr. Dean Aslinia, University of Phoenix counseling program chair, comments: "The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the single most disruptive occurrences in the last decade and we could see ripple effects in how we interact, live our lives and view society for years to come ― if not indefinitely."

He adds that while a shift in behaviors is expected with "substantial changes" in lifestyles, American lives have been impacted "in unparalleled ways."

More than three-quarters, or 76%, of U.S. adults indicated that the pandemic caused them to change their priorities. Once life returns to "normal," 73% of respondents say they will keep those same arrangements.

The majority of Americans who took the survey, 86%, say they will remain cautious once social distancing guidelines are relaxed, following guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Half of the respondents indicate they will continue to wear a mask, and 28% say they will wear gloves "most of the time" at public locations.

Disinfecting surfaces and areas also is a priority. Six in 10, or 61%, of survey takers will continue to clean/disinfect areas and items they touch the majority of the time, and 62% will keep the recommended 6 ft. physical distancing requirement.

Mass gatherings are an ongoing concern for Americans. Fifty-three percent say they are "less likely" to attend a large gathering, 52% are unlikely to travel internationally, and 37% say they will not travel domestically.

Other high-risk activities also are affected, with 45% of Americans conveying they will not use public transportation; one-quarter (25%) will not have events at home and 10% will not eat at a sit-down restaurant.

The United States' workplace also will see adjustments. The pandemic has caused 43% of currently-employed workers to reevaluate their current career paths. More than half, 51%, are seeking remote employment.

A quarter, 25% of the unemployed population say they are looking at their current career options as well. Forty-one percent are looking for remote work, and 29% would like to work in a more stable industry.

U.S. adults with children who have had to pivot work schedules and become a teacher are changing their ways as well. 

Aslinia says, "These survey results are not surprising as parents are feeling the added stress of keeping their children safe and secure during these uncertain times. Parents should make decisions based on what they feel is best for their family and not feel rushed to resume activities," added Aslinia. "Life has upended for all of us and it will take time and patience before we can fully adjust to this new world."

Fifty-one percent of parents are allowing children to sleep in longer, with 46% indicating kids can now go to bed later. Nearly half, 49%, of parents admit they are allowing their children to have more television or computer time.

In addition to more screen time, 63% of American adults also are encouraging children to practice good hygiene, to appreciate what they have (54%) and to "learn something new" (52%).

As guidelines are loosened, 66% of parents indicate they will not allow their kids to participate in large gatherings, attend birthday parties (57%) or play on the playground (57%).

They also are discouraging their children from hugging their friends (60%), playdates (53%), attending school (53%) or playing sports (45%).

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