US partisanship evident in coronavirus views - survey

Rhode Island ranks ‘most aggressive’ at combatting COVID-19

U.S. President Trump leads coronavirus task force daily briefing at the White House in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS)
U.S. President Trump leads coronavirus task force daily briefing at the White House in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Partisanship is evident in the way Americans view the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new Pew Research Center survey focused on Americans’ views of the virus and its impact on the country.
Over 25% more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (59%) say the novel virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, is a major threat to the health of the US population than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (33%).
Likewise, Republicans and independents who lean Republican are about twice as likely (30%) as Democrats and independents who lean Democratic (16%) to say the virus was created intentionally in a lab.
Most scientists agree that SARS-CoV-2 is the product of natural evolution. An article published last week in Nature Medicine showed that the virus either evolved to its current pathogenic (disease-causing) state through natural selection in a non-human host and then jumped to humans, or that a non-pathogenic version of the virus jumped from an animal host into humans and then evolved into is current disease-causing form within the human population.
When it comes to the handling of the outbreak within the United States, one thing Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on is that they are “not at all confident” (38%) that President Donald Trump is doing a good job responding to the coronavirus. About half of all Americans (52%) believe Trump is minimizing the risks of COVID-19. Only 37% say he has gotten the risks about right.
In Israel, preliminary results provided to The Jerusalem Post by the Israel Democracy Institute on March 12 showed strong support of the Israeli government in its efforts to fight coronavirus. Close to 60% (59.5%) of the general public believes that the government’s restrictions are consistent with the situation, according to IDI.
Since the release of this data, however, many new restrictions have been unveiled, including a seven-day period in which Health Ministry guidelines are being considered “orders,” and Israelis who break them are subject to fines.
When broken down by age, IDI found that the youngest Israelis are most supportive of the restrictions: 72.3% of people ages 18-24, the people least likely to become fatally ill from a coronavirus infection.
Looking at America and the Pew survey, it does appear that the US population is concerned about the outbreak.
Some 89% of Americans are “fairly” or “very” closely following news about the coronavirus.
Most Americans say they do feel confident in the work of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). More than eight-in-ten (83%) say they are very or somewhat confident that CDC officials are doing a good job. Many Americans (63%) say that public health officials at the CDC have gotten the risks of the coronavirus about right.
The survey asked how much of a threat, if any, the coronavirus outbreak is to various aspects of Americans’ lives. Some 98% said coronavirus represents a threat to the heath of the US population, and 78% said it is a threat to their personal health.
Additionally, 95% are worried it will negatively impact the US economy, and 67% are worried it is a threat to their personal finances.
The Pew survey was conducted March 10-16 as part of the center’s Election News Pathways project before Trump last Wednesday signed into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave.
WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, whose personal finance website recently completed a study that looks at which US states are most – or least- aggressively tackling the virus, called the legislation “a good first step” but said, “regardless, it looks like we’ll need more legislation after this to further support the economy and affected workers.”
The WalletHub study compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 35 key metrics. The data set ranges from tested cases of COVID-19 per capita and state legislation on the pandemic to the uninsured population and share of the workforce in affected industries.
The state doing the most, WalletHub found, is Rhode Island, followed closely by Connecticut and Maryland. The District of Columbia was ranked No. 10.
“Some of the key reasons why Rhode Island is the most aggressive state against the coronavirus include the closure of schools, bars and restaurants in the state,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Rhode Island has also restricted travel for state employees and is among the states that administered the most tests for COVID-19 per capita, among other actions.”
She noted that Rhode Island also has the infrastructure to handle this type of pandemic in part because of its relatively high funding for public health programs and its high number of healthcare facilities.
Gonzalez added that many of the more aggressive states have instituted a curfew for residents or called in the national guard.
The least aggressive state, WalletHub showed, was Wyoming, followed by Mississippi, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Missouri, Hawaii, Kansas, Tennessee and Indiana.