Background The U.S. has experienced an unprecedented number of orders to shelter in place throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to ascertain whether social distancing; difficulty with daily activities; and levels of concern regarding COVID-19 changed after the March 16, 2020 announcement of the nation's first shelter-in-place orders (SIPO) among individuals living in the seven affected counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Methods We conducted an online, cross-sectional social media survey from March 14 -April 1, 2020. We measured changes in social distancing behavior; experienced difficulties with daily activities (i.e., access to healthcare, childcare, obtaining essential food and medications); and level of concern regarding COVID-19 after the March 16 shelter-in-place announcement in the San Francisco Bay Area versus elsewhere in the U.S. Results In this non-representative sample, the percentage of respondents social distancing all of the time increased following the shelter-in-place announcement in the Bay Area (9.2%, 95% CI: 6.6, 11.9) and elsewhere in the U.S. (3.4%, 95% CI: 2.0, 5.0). Respondents also reported increased difficulty obtaining hand sanitizer, medications, and in particular respondents reported increased difficulty obtaining food in the Bay Area (13.3%, 95% CI: 10.4, 16.3) and elsewhere (8.2%, 95% CI: 6.6, 9.7). We found limited evidence that level of concern regarding the COVID-19 crisis changed following the announcement. Conclusion This study characterizes early changes in attitudes, behaviors, and difficulties. As states and localities implement, rollback, and reinstate shelter-in-place orders, ongoing efforts to more fully examine the social, economic, and health impacts of COVID-19, especially among vulnerable populations, are urgently needed.