Nearly 3 in 10 New York City residents (29%) report that either they or someone in their household has lost their job as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) over the last two weeks, according to a tracking survey conducted by City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy (CUNY SPH) from March 20 to 22.
In addition, 80% of NYC residents said they experienced reduced ability to get the food they need, and two-thirds (66%) reported a loss of social connection in the past week, suggesting that compelled isolation is taking a toll on residents.
According to the findings, NYC’s Latinx/Hispanic community appears to be hit hardest, with 2 in 5 respondents (41%) saying either they or a household member lost their job in the last two weeks.
In comparison, less than a quarter (24%) of Caucasian and Asian respondents, and 15% of African American respondents reported household job loss.
Just over a quarter (26%) of English-speaking respondents who took the survey reported household job loss while two in five (39%) of Spanish-speaking respondents reported household job loss.
New York City households with an income below $50,000 say they were hardest hit, with 34% reporting losing a job, compared to 28% of respondents with earnings between $50,000-$100,000 and 16% of those who reported they earned over $100,000.
In addition, 42% of people with families of two or more children reported household job losses compared to 27% of those with one child or less.
Middle-age respondents also appear to have been hit hardest, with one-third (34%) of 30-59 year-old respondents reporting job loss compared to less than a quarter (24%) of 18-29 year-olds and 23% of those over 60.
Men in New York City reported job loss slightly more frequently (30%) than females (27%).
Furthermore, it seems that most New Yorkers are trying to cut down on sharing inaccurate information about coronavirus on social media. In the earlier survey (March 13-15) 31% of all respondents reported sharing information on social media without knowing if it was accurate.
This week (March 20-22) that number was reduced by half to 15%. The sharpest improvement was among those over age 60 (only 7% of whom reported posting unreliable information compared to 29% the previous week). Among respondents ages 30-59 the numbers dropped from 33% to 15% between weeks one and two.
Among 18-29 year-old respondents the trend was much less pronounced compared to other age groups, with a drop from 28% to 25%.
Importantly, the survey found that 80% of NYC residents reported diminished ability to obtain the food they need, and almost a quarter (22%) say the impact has been “a lot.”
Respondents over age 60 have largely adopted preventive measures, even though two-thirds (68%) of them perceive their risk of illness from coronavirus as low or very low. This is significantly different from the rest of the population where 60% think their risk is low or very low.
Two in 3 NYC residents over the age of 60 (67%) said they stayed home instead of going to work in the last week, while four in five (82%) avoided interacting with people outside of their households, and more than half (53%) avoided hugging or shaking hands.
However, younger respondents were even more vigilant about using preventive behaviors, especially with regard to staying home from work and avoiding physical contact.
These findings suggest that increased risk communication about physical contact should be aimed at older New Yorkers, while younger residents should be more widely informed about the risks of interacting with people outside their homes.
When asked where they get their information on coronavirus, over half (56%) of respondents over age 60 cited television news, and half of them (52%) cited traditional broadcast television news (ABC, NBC, CBS) as their preferred source, suggesting that news messages and public service advertising about coronavirus prevention should use these traditional channels to reach older citizens.
Younger respondents said they go directly to CDC (30%), and WHO (24%) sites, but also rely on television news (18%) more than social media (10%) as their most trusted sources of coronavirus information.