Pollsters are used to having their calls screened. But when everyone is stuck at home, a stranger with some survey questions can be a lifeline.

It was a straightforward telephone survey of New Yorkers, a series of questions about the effects of the coronavirus crisis, and it was meant to take just a few minutes. But a strange thing kept happening. Many of the people who answered the phone wanted to keep talking — about their loneliness, about their sadness, about their fears for the future — even after the questions had stopped.

“People are dealing with anxiety, and they haven’t seen their family and friends,” said Ayala Mitchell, one of the interviewers for the survey conducted earlier this month by the Siena College Research Institute. “They just want to talk to someone.”