Coronavirus concerns on the rise again amid spike in new cases

Majorities support restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus and report a high level of personal compliance with measures to prevent infection.

Published July 23, 2020

A growing number of Americans report wearing masks outside their home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and 75% support a face mask requirement according to a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research July 16-20, 2020.

As the infection rate from the coronavirus rises nationwide, concerns about possibly contracting COVID-19 returned to levels seen last spring. People report high levels of compliance with recommendations to curb the spread of the virus including handwashing, avoiding crowds, and resisting touching their face.

When it comes to trade-offs between public health and the economy, 72% want their community to use restrictions to stem the spread of the virus even at the expense of the economy compared to 27% who prioritize reopening the economy.

Local leaders continue to get more approval for their efforts in handling the pandemic than the administration or Congress. More than 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of how President Trump is dealing with health care in general and the coronavirus outbreak specifically.

Eighty-one percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about someone in their family contracting the coronavirus, including 49% who are very or extremely concerned. This level of concern was last seen in March and is up significantly compared to last month. Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say they are extremely or very worried.

Most people say they wash their hands more frequently, avoid touching their face, and steer clear of crowds. Fewer say they are stocking up on food or cleaning supplies, or consulting with a health care provider. Only 2 percent are taking no actions in response to the virus.

There hasn’t been much change in people’s behaviors in the past few months. More people report wearing masks compared with May, but fewer are avoiding other people.  

A majority of Republicans, 75%, along with 95% of Democrats, report wearing a mask when leaving the house. However, Republicans are less supportive of compelling the public to wear masks. Republicans are also less amenable to other actions designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Overall, 72% of Americans support using restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus even to the detriment of the economy, while 27% want restrictions removed to help the economy, even if more people get infected with the virus. Ninety-two percent of Democrats favor restrictions and 53% of Republicans prefer helping the economy.

The public has a more favorable opinion of how their state and local officials have been handling the coronavirus outbreak than the federal government or Congressional leaders. However, this approval has declined slightly over the last few months. Approval of local government was at a high of 63% in April compared to 52% now. Similarly, approval of state government declined from 63% in April to 48% now.

Democrats are much more positive toward their local government than Republicans and somewhat more favorable toward their state government. On the other hand, Republicans are much more favorable toward the federal government than Democrats. There is bipartisan disapproval of Congressional leaders.

In addition, only about a third of the public approve of how Trump is handling health care and the coronavirus outbreak.  But as usual there are strong partisan differences.

The nationwide poll was conducted July 16-20, 2020 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,057 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.3 percentage points.

AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (July, 2020). “Coronavirus Concerns on the Rise Again Amid Spike in New Cases.” []



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