How many social contacts are people having during stay-at-home?

And, how risky is it to have contact with people outside of your household?

In a previous post, we reported a Gallup survey that indicated at least.2/3s of Americans were making a reasonably serious attempt to isolate themselves during the stay-at-home.

A new Gallup survey reports that 74% are isolating themselves “completely” or “mostly”.

That’s pretty good compliance.

And, Gallup goes a step further in the current study to calibrate what “completely” or “mostly” mean by asking respondents how many people they came in contact with — not counting fellow household members — during the past 24 hours.

Note: The forecast models generally assume that social distancing practices, including stay-at-home, reduce contacts by about 40% … 25% for work contacts and 75% for general social contacts.

The conclusion: Adults practicing social distancing generate at least 90% fewer contacts per day than those who are making little effort to social distance.


On average, survey respondents had 9.9 contacts in the past 24 hours.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers…


The average is 9.9 contacts, but there’s a wide range: complete isolaters only had 1.5 outside contacts …  those who are only isolating a little or not at all had about 50 contacts each day.

Understandably, people who are still working (60% of the sample) had more outside contacts (13.9) than non-workers (4.0) who are better positioned to stay isolated.


Predictably, the bulk of the outside contacts are at work (52% of contacts), at a grocery store (26%) and with visitors to the home (8%).

All of these numbers make sense to me.  They still signal good compliance … and they provide a baseline for statistically assessing the risk that we incur when we venture out of our homes.

We’re working on that angle now..

3 Responses to “How many social contacts are people having during stay-at-home?”

  1. Still more about the NY antibody test results… | The Homa Files Says:

    […] recent Gallup survey found that, on average, people make close contact with 10 people each […]

  2. Help Wanted: Vice President of Contact Tracing & Testing | The Homa Files Says:

    […] recent Gallup survey found that, on average, even during the lockdown, people make infectiously close contact with about […]

  3. WSJ: The data are in … | The Homa Files Says:

    […] For details, see: How many social contacts are people having during stay-at-home? […]

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