COVID-19 has impacted daily life in many ways. Researchers are studying its many different effects, especially on hard-hit communities.   

COVID-19 has impacted daily life in many ways. Researchers are studying its many different effects, especially on hard-hit communities.   

What you need to know

COVID-19 affects our daily lives and health, even for people who have not gotten the virus. For example, we know that

  • The United States’ unemployment rate rose from 3.5 percent in February 2020 to a record high of 14.7 percent in April 2020, but as of November 2020 it was back down to 6.7 percent.
  • In November 2020, 21.8 percent of U.S. people with jobs teleworked due to the pandemic.
  • The majority of school-age children in the United States have attended school online for at least part, if not most of 2020.

A new NIH project is working to understand and reduce the widespread impacts of COVID-19, especially among the groups of people who have been hit the hardest.

What is this research about?

The project is called the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Health Impacts of COVID-19 in Vulnerable and Health Disparity Population initiative.

The initiative is funding research in three areas:

  • Public health efforts to contain COVID-19: What the options are, how well they work, and any unintended consequences
  • Impacts on everyday life and health care: How the pandemic is affecting people’s everyday lives and their access to health care
  • Community health efforts: What community health experts are doing, how well their efforts are working, and what else they might do

Who is included?

Research will include many different groups of people who are considered high-risk or vulnerable to COVID-19 and other effects of the pandemic.

Some groups at risk include the following:

  • Ethnic and racial minorities
  • People living in care facilities
  • Older adults living in the community
  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • People without homes
  • People who are in prison
  • People with disabilities

Other groups include front-line workers such as medical staff, emergency responders, and other essential workers.

Why is this research important?

The efforts to contain and stop the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted many people’s daily lives, their finances, and access to health care—especially for people who were already at risk. Researchers are studying the many ways COVID-19 affects our lives and health in order to help everyone better handle the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope to help us better assess the benefits and risks of things like stay-at-home orders, limiting health care services, and closing non-essential businesses. Their findings will also help us be better prepared for the next public health emergency.

Where can I find more information?

Translational Behavioral Medicine | National Institutes of Health social and behavioral research in response to the SARS-CoV2 Pandemic

  • This journal article outlines the work NIH is doing to address social, behavioral, economic, and health disparities worsened by the pandemic.

NIH Report on Vaccine Communication

  • This report from the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research discusses communication strategies to help people have more confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.

NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

  • Learn more about NIH’s research in the areas of social and behavioral sciences.

PhenX Toolkit

  • This resource provides a list of COVID-19-related measurement protocols drawn from the surveys listed in DR2.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, December 4). The Employment Situation—November 2020 [Press release].


News and Stories

Read stories about the efforts underway to prevent, detect, and treat COVID-19 and its effects on our health.

NIH COVID-19 Resources by Topic

COVID-19 research information and resources by topic from NIH institutes and centers