Survey: Attitudes, Views and Values around Health, Equity and Race Amid COVID-19

A national, ongoing survey explores deep-rooted views of those with low and middle incomes, with a focus on people of color, on health, equity and race.
A man stands outside of his home wearing a mask, with his sister in the background.

The pandemic has not demonstrably shifted views on the connection between race and health among those most affected by COVID-19, despite communities of color and those with lower incomes being hit the hardest.



Many see COVID-19 as a moment for change, with improving access to health care as the shift they most want to see.

COVID-19 has upended the lives of people living in the United States, but some groups are facing more challenges than others. This ongoing survey from RAND Corporation attempts to understand the views and values of those who are most at risk to the adverse impacts of COVID-19 by surveying people with lower and middle incomes with a focus on communities of color. It measures the attitudes of the same group of respondents over a year with four waves of collection.

Between COVID-19 and calls for racial justice, 2020 appeared to be a turning point for tackling the root causes of inequities in health. Findings from the first and second waves of the survey show that many people—even those who may have been hit hardest by the pandemic and long-standing inequities—still do not see systemic racism as a barrier to good health. 

People are becoming less worried about health risks and are increasingly prioritizing freedom over their health. Pandemic fatigue is real—the exhaustion respondents were feeling in October and November is reflected in the surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the country that have unfolded this winter.

But there are reasons to be hopeful. More than two-thirds of respondents believe the pandemic presents a moment for positive change. Expanding access to health care is the most cited change they want to see, followed by reducing income inequality.

Note: Findings thus far are based on Wave 1 and Wave 2 reports.

Wave 2 Key Findings

  • Many people—even those who may have been hit hardest by the pandemic and long-standing inequities—still do not see systemic racism as a barrier to good health.

  • Respondents’ willingness to risk their own health to return to “normal” has actually gone up slightly over time.

  • More than 70 percent of respondents see the pandemic as a moment for positive change. Black and Hispanic respondents are also more likely than white respondents to endorse this statement.

  • Respondents who see an opportunity for positive change believe society should prioritize expanding access to health care and reducing income inequality.

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe the government should ensure health care as a fundamental right. White respondents are less likely to endorse this statement.

  • Black respondents report lower trust in government than white and Hispanic respondents.

Coming Soon

The third wave of findings will be available spring 2021, followed by the fourth and final wave in summer 2021.

About the Survey

The COVID-19 and the Experiences of Populations at Greater Risk survey is a national poll measuring attitudes, views and values toward health, equity, civic engagement and systemic racism during COVID-19. This longitudinal survey is following the same group of people over time, with a sample size of more than 4,000 people. This is a nationally representative sample of adults living in lower and middle income households (with household incomes less than $125,000) and includes oversamples of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans.