About a fifth of adults in the US have moved due to Covid-19 or know someone who did, a new study shows

When the coronavirus pandemic began its rapid spread from country to country and eventually state to state, what once felt like home was no longer a safe haven for millions of people.

Around one-in-five adults in the US have either moved or know someone who did because of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Center on Monday.

While many of those who moved were students who lived on campus and were forced to leave when their campus shut down, 28% of US adults who relocated said they moved to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

Other reasons include financial, such as job loss, or to be with family. Some needed a bigger space to quarantine, especially those who were now working from home, while one person said they were traveling and were blocked from returning home, according to the study.

“We certainly found that young adults are the most likely to have moved because of the pandemic,” D’Vera Cohn, the author of the study, told CNN. “The impact Covid-19 has had on young adults was the most striking thing to me. The fact that so many of them had to move, had someone move into their homes, or know someone else who moved just shows the phenomenon of people having to leave their homes because of the pandemic.”

Race and ethnicity also played a major role in who moved because of the pandemic. Seven percent of Asian adults and 6% of Hispanic adults said they moved because of the outbreak, compared with 2% of Whites, the study said.

More than 60% of the adults who moved said they relocated to a family member’s home, while the rest moved into a vacation home, with a friend, or temporary housing. About 9% moved into a new permanent home.

A search for safety and space

For 36-year-old Evan White, the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t come at a worse time. With a 4-year-old daughter and another baby on the way, Los Angeles residents White and his wife knew that being quarantined at home meant needing a lot more space than usual.

After his daughter, born nine weeks premature, was released from the hospital, the family of four moved from a 50-unit apartment in Venice to a 6-unit townhouse in Santa Monica in May.

“It was stressful, scary, and hard to do mid-pandemic, but we’re happy to have done it,” White, who runs his own business, told CNN. “We feel safer and more comfortable where we now live. But it’s been incredibly hard — the loss of work, child care, and seeing friends, family, church and our community in real life.”

Along with needing more safe distancing from neighbors as well as space for their children, White said his family also need an in-unit washer and dryer to limit how much they had to leave the house and interact with people — especially with a new baby at home.

White is just one of millions of people who have moved because of the impact the coronavirus has had on their lives. But now, with cases back on the rise and many states returning to previous restrictions to slow the surge, more people are likely to find themselves reevaluating their living situations.

“While it’s hard to say what will happen next, there’s talk of a wave evictions coming, which can affect people and force them to move around,” Cohn told CNN.

“What’s happening with public schools and colleges in the fall will probably affect how students are moving around too. Another thing to ask is are people who moved going to go back where they came from or will they decide to stay? There are just a lot of unanswered questions and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

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