As more and more states and communities ease restrictions to jumpstart the reopening process, strong majorities believe the country lacks sufficient testing and are also skeptical about returning to pre-pandemic activities, including sending kids back to school, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday finds.
Nearly three in four Americans believe there are not enough tests available in the United States, compared to only 26% who said there is adequate testing available right now.
In the new poll, released the same week in which the debate over when students will return to school created a divide between President Trump and the nation's top infectious disease expert leading the effort to combat the coronavirus, more than two-thirds of Americans (69%) who have a child under the age of 18 living at home who had been enrolled in school before the pandemic said they are not currently willing to send their child back to school.
Only 31% said they would send their child to school in the survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel. In an ABC News/Ipsos poll that was conducted two weeks ago with a differently worded question, 45% of Americans with children who had been enrolled in school before the pandemic said they would be likely to send their children back to school if stay-at-home orders were lifted.
Even among Republicans, only half said there is enough testing available right now, and less than half (48%) are willing to send their kids to school. Among Democrats, only 10% said there is sufficient testing, and only 15% said they are willing to send their kids to school.
The new poll comes as America’s reopening has begun after weeks under lockdown, with more than half of states beginning to reopen their economies, including one that is being forced to lift a stay-at-home order by the ruling of a state Supreme Court. But earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned lawmakers that reopening schools and businesses too quickly could trigger an outbreak, and possibly stifle the road to economic recovery.
"If some areas, city, states, or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," he said on Tuesday during a Senate hearing. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control. Which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery."
Trump rebuffed Fauci's assessment, telling reporters Wednesday during a meeting with the governors of Colorado and North Dakota in the White House’s Cabinet Room, "I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it’s just, to me it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools."
Trump said that Fauci’s caution on reopening the economy reflected the fact that Fauci "wants to play all sides of the equation."
"I think you should absolutely open the schools," Trump said. "I don't consider our country coming back if the schools are closed."
The only activities that a majority of Americans are willing to get back to immediately are grocery shopping (91%), going to work (71%) and getting a haircut (56%). Two weeks ago, in that previous ABC News/Ipsos poll with a slightly different question, 77% and 51% of Americans said they were likely to return to work and get a haircut if restrictions were relaxed in the next day. The question about grocery shopping was not asked in the poll two weeks ago.
But reopening the country, much like nearly every aspect of the coronavirus, draws sharp partisan divides, with Republicans more likely to say they are willing to resume normal activities than Democrats.
A clear majority of Republicans are currently willing to eat at a restaurant (61%), stay in a hotel (60%), get a haircut (74%), attend church (60%), and go shopping at the mall (61%).
Democrats are far less are willing to do the same activities, with 22% willing to eat at a restaurant, 28% willing to stay at a hotel, 37% willing to get a haircut, 25% willing to attend church, and 19% willing to go to a shopping mall.
But Republicans are not entirely on board with resuming all day-to-day activities, with smaller proportions willing to go to a bar (43%), attend a sporting event in a large stadium (30%), go to the gym (36%), see a movie (40%), go bowling (42%), or fly on an airplane (42%).
Still, Republicans' willingness continues to trace higher than Democrats across all the listed activities. Only a handful of Democrats are willing to go to a bar (7%), attend a sporting event (6%), go to a gym (14%), go to the movies (13%), go bowling (10%), or fly on an airplane (15%).
There is some common ground across ideologues, with most Democrats and Republicans being comfortable going to the grocery store, 91% and 96%, and returning to work, 68% and 77%.
An overwhelming majority of Americans remain concerned about contracting the coronavirus, 79%, but that anxiety still doesn't appear to cross partisan lines, with Democrats far more worried about getting infected than Republicans by a 20-point margin (89%-69%).
Throughout the crisis, minorities continue to bear a disproportionate toll of the coronavirus burden. But only slightly more non-whites than whites are concerned about getting COVID-19, 83%-76%, and roughly the same number of non-whites and whites believe there is not enough testing available, 75%-72%.
But when it comes to a return to normal, non-whites are less likely to resume most of the activities listed, except for going to the grocery store (92%-91%), eating at a restaurant (39%-42%), staying in a hotel (43%-46%), flying on an airplane (28%-30%), and going to the movies (31%-27%).
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® May 13-14, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 564 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.