Finally, some good news: Survey finds many Americans adapting to realities of COVID-19

Patient with mask
A new study from Cigna examines global resiliency in the face of COVID-19. (Getty/damircudic)

While the continued climb of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is pushing many Americans' resiliency to the limit, there are signs that some are adapting to the challenging circumstances, a new study from Cigna shows.

Daniel Ober, M.D., medical officer for Cigna Global Health Benefits, told Fierce Healthcare that because the U.S. never really entered a lull in the pandemic that allowed it to reopen the way some other regions did, many Americans have "adapted somewhat" to life under COVID-19.

For example, people who are unwilling to wear masks in public, as is recommended by experts, are largely an exception to the rule, not the norm, he said.

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"We're adapting to this new normal and will continue to do so," he said.

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People are also able to find some joy in the circumstances that have been foisted upon them, the survey found. Of the six indices Cigna included in the study—physical, social, family, work, finance and the "360 index"—work and family have consistently been the highest since January around the world, the study found.

For one, many of the kinks in the technology needed to work and study from home have been worked out, making communicating virtually more enjoyable. Further, the study shows more time with family at home is having a positive impact, Ober said.

The study focuses on the third quarter and also found that, globally, the number of people who are worried about future pandemics has declined over the course of the year.

That includes drops in areas like Spain, where, in April, nearly 55% said they were w orried about future pandemics, compared to just under 30% in August. In the U.S., about 37% said they were worried about future pandemics in April, compared to 30% in August.

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Despite those positives, the pandemic is having significant negative impacts on the resiliency of people across the globe, particularly around finances, the survey found.

Financial health was the lowest-performing index in the study since the beginning of the year and reached its lowest score in June. While the index ticked up in July and August, it remains the biggest challenge indicated by the study.

Survey respondents listed finances as their largest source of stress prior to the pandemic, with 32% reporting stress related to their financials. That has increased to 34% over the course of the pandemic, Cigna found.

Ober said this includes people working at firms that were stable in the early days of the pandemic but are struggling as the situation continues.

"Early companies that were very stable and supportive. Are they still going to be stable and supportive as this goes on and on and on?" he said.

And while remote options have allowed many people to continue working while staying at home, a frequent complaint in the study was from people who now feel like they are "always on" because there's less separation between their work life and home life, Ober said.

About 80% of people surveyed expressed a sense of this "always on mindset," he said.

"While they love the remote ability to be able to work at home, at least at this point … they don't like, extremely don't like the 'always on mindset,'" Ober said.