This study explored people’s compliance with recommended preventative measures during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. An online survey was administered in June 2020 in the USA and Canada (N = 1,405). Regression analysis found that when controlling for other factors, age and political ideology were significant predictors of compliance with preventative measures. A content analysis of narrative answers of compliance/noncompliance found that the majority of individuals intended to comply with preventative measures, with primary reasons as social responsibility, self-protection, and protection of family members. Reasons identified for not complying were viewing preventative practices as unnecessary, getting mixed messages from various sources about effectiveness, distrust in government and inability to comply. This study informs social workers on intervention strategies on micro, mezzo and macro levels of practice.