An ABC News poll shows that 26 percent of adults are very concerned about the coronavirus, while 40 percent are only “somewhat” concerned. Twenty-six percent said they are “not so concerned,” while seven percent said they are “not concerned at all.”
The poll of 502 adults was taken on March 11 and 12 and has a sampling error of 5.1 points. With things moving so fast, the dates are important. President Trump gave his Oval Address on the night of the 11th, and as the survey was being taken on the 12th, our economy was effectively being shut down with countless cancellations and postponements.
As far as the president’s handling of the crisis, 43 percent approve of the job he’s doing, while 54 percent disapprove. Republicans historically poll better when there is tighter screening for “registered” or “likely” voters.
It will surprise no one to learn that both questions reflect a partisan divide in the country. ABC reports:
Among Democrats, 83% are concerned about getting coronavirus, including 47% who are very concerned, and among Republicans, 56% are concerned, including only 15% who are very concerned. Only 17% of Democrats are not concerned while a larger 44% of Republicans are not concerned.
c[P]artisanship continues to fuel attitudes towards the White House’s response, with the same amount of Democrats disapproving of Trump’s managing of the health crisis as Republicans approving, 86%. Only 14% of Democrats approve, and 11% of Republicans disapprove.
Concern over the virus bumped up a bit after the president’s speech. Of those “interviewed after President Trump’s Wednesday night speech into Thursday, 73% of Americans said they were concerned about getting infected, compared to 59% who were interviewed on Wednesday prior to the speech.”
Most revealing, though, is that “relatively few Americans have changed their behavior since the coronavirus has landed here,” which might be a truer gauge of how truly concerned people are.
The survey found that only three percent have shifted to working from home since the outbreak, and only about 25 percent have avoided things like going to a restaurant or taking a planned vacation.
Nearly three-quarters, 73%, “have not canceled or postponed activities or events in their daily lives.”
Overall, what these numbers show is that the level of panic in the country in no way mirrors what we are seeing on cable news or on social media. Caution is good, and caution is reflected in the fact that 66 percent are very or somewhat concerned, but the kind of hysteria we’re seeing in the media and social media is not happening in the country as a whole.