Week 4 Survey of Social Distancing in North Carolina - April 18-20, 2020

May 1, 2020

This survey was designed by the Duke University COVID19 Digital Lab, a joint project of Duke Forge and the Duke University Social Science Research Institute, and conducted by Clarity+Campaign Labs. Project team members include Erich S. Huang, MD, PhD (Director, Duke Forge and Duke Crucible; Assistant Dean for Biomedical Informatics, Duke University School of Medicine), Jessilyn Dunn, PhD (Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke Pratt School of Engineering), Kyle Endres, PhD (Duke Social Science Research Institute), Nick Eubank, PhD (Duke Social Science Research Institute), Dana Pasquale, PhD (Duke Social Science Research Institute), and Donald H. Taylor, Jr., PhD (Director, Duke Social Science Research Institute; Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).


Logo for the joint Duke Social Science Research Institute/Duke Forge COVID19 Digital Lab

The Duke Forge/Duke University Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) COVID19 Digital Lab commissioned a survey that was conducted for a fourth time by Clarity+ Campaign Labs (CCL) from April 18-20, 2020 to ask North Carolinians (N=1,345; margin of error: +/- 2.60% at 95% confidence interval) about their social distancing behavior related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first version of this survey was conducted March 29-31, 2020 (N=1,274); the second on April 4-6, 2020 (N=1,426); and the third on April 11-13, 2020 (N=1,347). The survey is repeated weekly and results are updated in order to track any changes in self-reported behavior that may influence the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus. All of the responses to the Week 4 survey asked about behavior after the statewide "Stay at Home" order issued by Governor Cooper took effect at 5:00 pm EDT on March 30, 2020.

Full details of the survey methodology, the questionnaire instrument and the raw data may be accessed and freely used (please see links at bottom under "Additional Resources").

Summary of Results

No large changes from the previous week were seen in Week 4 survey results. The vast majority of North Carolinians (96%) continue to report changes in their behavior via different types of social distancing at Week 4 of this survey. As before, there are still behaviors being reported that can potentially serve to spread the coronavirus, including the fact that large numbers continue to engage with others outside their household. At Week 4, roughly two-thirds of those surveyed reported having had physical, face-to-face interactions with at least one person who does not live in their household during the previous 24 hours.

The proportion of households reporting that a member left the household for work in the 3 days prior to the answering the survey at Week 4 (45%) remained similar to that reported from the previous week’s survey (44%).

The percentage of North Carolinians who think it is likely that they will get the coronavirus in Week 4 was 11%, up from the 8% reported for Week 3 but lower than the 13% reported in Week 1 and Week 2 surveys.

The proportion of households reporting a child playing with a child from another household at Week 4 (19%) was slightly lower than that reported for the previous week (20%).

Survey Response Details

Question: About how many people that do not live in your household have you had physical, face-to-face interactions with in the past 24 hours?

Number Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
None 36% 39% 39% 33%
1 to 3 33% 38% 39% 38%
4 to 6 11% 10% 10% 12%
7 or more 19% 14% 11% 17%





Question: For how many of those interactions were you able to stay at least 6 feet from the other person at all times? (Six feet is just far enough that if you and the other person both reached out your arms, you couldn’t touch one another.)

Number Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
None 21% 19% 19% 22%
1 to 3 45% 54% 53% 48%
4 to 6 16% 13% 16% 13%
7 or more 19% 13% 13% 17%





Question: In the last week, how many times did you spend time in a group of more than 20 people? 

Number Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Never 78% 82% 81% 75%
1 to 3 15% 13% 14% 16%
4 to 6 2% 2% 2% 3%
7 or more 5% 2% 3% 6%





Question: Approximately how many times, if at all, did you wash your hands in the past 24 hours? (Your best guess is fine.)

Number Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
None 0% 1% 1% 0%
1 to 3 4% 4% 7% 8%
4 to 6 18% 18% 19% 17%
7 or more 77% 77% 73% 75%





Several questions provide the respondents views about their personal risk of contracting the coronavirus, and their view of how most North Carolinians are responding to the current pandemic.

Question: Do you think it’s likely that you’ll get the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19?


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Likely 13% 13% 8% 11%
Not likely 57% 59% 64% 65%
Unsure 30% 28% 28% 25%

Question: How would you describe the way most North Carolinians are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak? Would you say that most North Carolinians are underestimating the risk, reacting appropriately, or overreacting?

Reaction Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Underestimating risk 38% 37% 34% 33%
Reacting appropriately 52% 55% 57% 55%
Overreacting 9% 8% 9% 12%

Additional Resources

Contact Information

For questions about this survey and associated data, please contact Donald H. Taylor, Jr., PhD at don.taylor@duke.edu