Country at war with COVID-19 sees rising concerns over virus: POLL

Spiking cases have shifted sentiments around the pandemic in recent weeks.

June 26, 2020, 5:31 AM

Spiking cases of COVID-19 have shifted sentiments around the pandemic in recent weeks, with the nation growing more concerned about becoming infected, generally more reticent to engage in normal activities than just two weeks ago, and believing that the country reopened up too fast, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

More than three in four Americans (76%) are concerned about contracting the coronavirus, levels of concern not seen in a month. The latest poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, shows an uptick in unease from just two weeks ago when concern stood at 69% in a poll released on June 12.

Fewer than one in four Americans say they are not worried about becoming infected.

With the outbreak not fading away, it appears the country is backsliding.

How concerned are you that you or someone you know will be infected with the coronavirus?
How concerned are you that you or someone you know will be infected with the coronavirus?
ABC News/Ipsos Poll

Some states, like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that were once hotspots but are now in various stages of reopening, are moving forward with those plans. But dozens of states across the south and west, particularly Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, are hitting the pause button as they contend with alarming surges in new infections.

On Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, whose state was among the first to reopen, announced that he is temporarily putting plans for additional reopening on hold as the state contends with increases in cases, rate of positivity, hospitalizations, and deaths - even hitting a record number of new cases, and hospitalizations on Wednesday.

A majority of Americans, 56%, conclude that the country's moving too quickly to reopen, while only 15% say it’s moving too slowly and 29% believe the country is moving at about the right pace.

The latest numbers come as more than 34,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the U.S. in a single day on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national total now stands at more than 2.4 million cases with at least 122,000 deaths.

The setbacks are accompanied by increasing apprehension towards returning to everyday life. Americans are less willing to get back to the activities marking their normal routines than they were two weeks ago.

Strong majorities are still willing to go grocery shopping (93%), get a haircut (65%) and go to work (79%) - a consistent pattern throughout polling. In the poll from earlier this month, there was an increase across all the activities, but after an uptick in infections, the uptick in willingness to take part in various activities has stalled.

Bare majorities of Americans said they are willing to eat a restaurant (56%) and stay in a hotel (53%), compared to earlier this month, when majorities of Americans were ready to do five activities.

Are you currently willing or unwilling to do each of the following?
Are you currently willing or unwilling to do each of the following?
ABC News/Ipsos Poll

The new survey comes less than a week President Trump returned to the campaign trail with his first rally since the coronavirus forced the campaign trail to shut down, which saw lower-than-expected turnout. Just hours before he was set to take the stage, news broke that six campaign staffers, part of the advance team who helped organize the rally before the president's arrival, tested positive for the virus - underscoring the risk a clear majority of Americans see in potentially moving too fast to restore normalcy amid the pandemic.

Republicans, though, still align closer with the president's view on COVID-19 - despite being more split in their concern about the virus and their support for reopening than Democrats.

While 67% of Republicans are concerned about becoming infected, 91% of Democrats said the same. Thirty-three percent of Republicans and only 8% of Democrats said they are not concerned.

On reopening the country, an overwhelming 81% of Democrats believe the country is moving too quickly to reopen while Republicans are more divided. Just over four in 10 say the country is moving at about the right pace, while 28% and 29% say the country is moving too quickly and too slowly, respectively.

But there are not just fractures among partisans.

Non-white Americans are more likely than white Americans to be concerned about contracting the coronavirus, 85% as opposed to 71%, and believe that the country is moving too swiftly to reopen the economy, 69% as opposed to 48%.

An earlier release from this ABC News/Ipsos survey on Thursday found that nearly nine in 10 Americans (89%) who left their home in the last week wore a face mask or a face covering, compared to only 11% who said they did not.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® June 24-25, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 579 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.7 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

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