Majority of Americans Say They Are No Longer Scared of Contracting Coronavirus

May 18, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Coronavirus | Health
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With weekly coronavirus cases in the United States being at their lowest level since September 2020, the latest research conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in the US asked American voters what they think about their country’s current situation with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as its expected future evolution.

Half (50%) of Americans believe the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind them, while only a quarter (24%) believe the worst is yet to come.

This optimism is shared across party lines and also extends to the economic aspect of the pandemic: 40% of Americans say they believe the worst of the pandemic’s economic effects is over.

The American public is notably confident that the coronavirus situation in the US is coming under control, with 57% expressing this point of view and only 13% disagreeing.

Furthermore, there is increased optimism regarding the US’ ability to recover quickly from the coronavirus crisis: a majority of 53% of Americans declare themselves optimistic in this regard (compared to 48% in March 2021), whereas 24% say they are neither optimistic nor pessimistic, and 20% say they are pessimistic. The optimism runs particularly high among young people, with 62% of those aged 18 to 24 saying they are optimistic.

Looking at how voters assess the current administration’s handling of the pandemic, over half (52%) of the American public approves of President Joe Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic specifically.

While this result still indicates significant support, it marks an eight-point decline compared to March 2021, when 60% of Americans approved. Similarly, disapproval has risen from 21% in March to 26% now. With the Biden administration now past its first 100 days in office, this change might partly be attributed to the honeymoon period immediately following the new administration’s arrival slowly wearing off, and also to challenges surrounding the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When asked about the Federal Government’s efforts more broadly, a similar proportion of respondents (56%) believe that the Federal Government is currently taking the right measures to address the pandemic. Again, we find a slight decline in positive evaluations of the US Government’s coronavirus response: in March 2021, 61% thought the Federal Government was taking the right measures. However, the proportion of Americans who believe that the US Government is not taking the right measures has only marginally changed, with 28% adopting this point of view now, compared to 26% in March.

Looking at the public’s current evaluations, we find that political allegiances clearly appear to influence respondents’ perceptions: whereas 80% of those who voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election believe the Federal Government is currently taking the right measures to address the pandemic, a considerably lower, though still significant, 34% of those who voted for Donald Trump say the same.

In line with these generally positive assessments, a plurality (35%) of Americans think that authorities are relaxing social-distancing measures at the right pace, while a further 23% of respondents find the current pace too slow.

At the same time, more than a quarter (27%) of respondents think social-distancing measures are being relaxed too quickly, preferring perhaps a more cautious approach. Interestingly, those who have already received a vaccine were more likely to say that social-distancing measures are being relaxed too quickly (33%) than those who have not received a vaccine (19%).

Moreover, our research shows that members of the public are slowly moving away from perceiving coronavirus as an immediate threat to their health. As such, a majority of the public (56%) is no longer actively scared of contracting coronavirus, compared to 33% who say they are. This result marks a positive trend in public opinion compared to March, when 38% of respondents were still actively scared, compared to 52% who were not.

Intriguingly, members of the public who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine (25%) are now less likely to say they are actively scared of contracting coronavirus than those who have received a vaccine (38%).

Overall, 54% of Americans say they feel less scared of contracting coronavirus now than they did in March and April, with 37% saying they feel equally scared, and only 8% saying they feel more scared.

Our latest research suggests that the American public currently has an optimistic outlook on the country’s coronavirus situation. While we observe a slight decline in approval of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic, Americans are now less scared than a few months ago of contracting coronavirus themselves and are increasingly confident in their country’s ability to recover from the pandemic quickly.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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