Poll: 61% Of Americans Approve Of U.S. Government's Coronavirus Response

Feb 4, 2020
Originally published on February 4, 2020 8:04 pm
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Nearly 200 people remain quarantined at an air base in Southern California following the return from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. One child in the group was taken to a nearby hospital with a fever and is being evaluated. The quarantine is just one of the measures the U.S. has taken to try to limit the spread of the virus. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports on a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll which finds the majority of Americans say U.S. officials are doing enough to contain the virus.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Two-thirds of Americans say the coronavirus poses a real threat and has not been blown out of proportion. And though many say they are concerned about the potential spread within the U.S., most Americans say they're not very concerned that the virus will spread in their own community. Here's Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

LEE MIRINGOFF: People are worried, watchful. But right now, a majority of Americans don't see this as something that is necessarily going to strike here. I think that's a reaction to the fact that, so far, it's been very limited.

AUBREY: The only confirmed cases in the U.S. so far have been in people who returned from the Wuhan region or been in close contact with someone who has. The poll also finds that older Americans are much more likely to be concerned about the spread of the virus to their communities. And that's understandable, poll respondent Karen Montoya (ph) told us. She's 77. She lives in Phoenix. She points out - older people are generally more vulnerable to respiratory infections, and the average age of the first cases reported in China was about 60.

KAREN MONTOYA: We are concerned about it, but we're not to the point where we personally feel like we would be involved.

AUBREY: She's reassured that there have been no deaths in the U.S. She says if the coronavirus did spread here, she and her husband have lived through prior pandemics. Back in the early 1970s, they got Hong Kong flu, which was responsible for the 1968 flu pandemic.

MONTOYA: My husband was quite sick. He was sick for a week. I was only sick for two days.

AUBREY: Montoya says some people in her peer group do seem overly anxious about the coronavirus, so she tells them to do the same things they do to prevent the flu.

MONTOYA: Don't go anywhere if you have symptoms of a cold or flu. You need to pay attention to what's going on, but don't overthink it.

AUBREY: Our poll also asked people whether U.S. officials were doing enough to prevent the spread of the virus here. And more than 6 in 10 Americans said, yes, officials are doing enough. But respondent Fausto Fernandez (ph), who is 36 and lives in Massachusetts, says for him, it's complicated.

FAUSTO FERNANDEZ: I think it's a great idea to keep the public safe.

AUBREY: But he says he is concerned that the travel restrictions put in place by the Trump administration may be overly broad.

FERNANDEZ: I just hope that it's not used for something else other than for the good of people.

AUBREY: He says the only goal should be to prevent the spread of the virus.

Allison Aubrey, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.