State of the Facts 2020: COVID-19

Few Americans find it easy to find information on COVID-19 and are split on what information to trust and how to use it to make decisions.

Public Use Files

October 20, 2020

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are still paying close attention, but few have trusted sources for factual information.

According to the USAFacts/AP-NORC Poll, over half of Americans are paying close attention to information related to the virus these days. But 43% of Americans find it difficult to find information about the pandemic, and 37% say it has become harder to find factual information about it since the start of the outbreak. Certain types of information are easier for Americans to find than others: While more than half find it easy to get information on wearing masks or getting tested, less than half find it easy to get information on reopening schools or treatments.

Americans are looking to their health care providers and federal health officials for trustworthy information, but less than a quarter get information from these sources regularly. In contrast, just 18% find information on COVID-19 from the news media to be trustworthy, but nearly half get COVID-19 information from them on a daily basis. There are partisan differences as well – Republicans are more likely to trust information from the president while Democrats are more likely to believe information from federal health officials. The news media is the most frequent sources of information on COVID-19 across parties.

The nationwide USAFacts/AP-NORC Poll was conducted September 15-25, 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 1,043 adults. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

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