POLL: Two-thirds of Americans concerned about contracting coronavirus

(NEW YORK) — Two-thirds of Americans are concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the novel coronavirus, but in a country with a growing partisan divide, political tribalism is having a large impact when it comes to anxiety over the disease, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Although unease over the coronavirus is high, it also strongly breaks along partisan lines. 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.

During the two rapidly unfolding days in which the poll was conducted, a slate of high-profile public events and large gatherings, such as March Madness and entire professional sporting seasons, have been canceled, a growing number of schools and public venues have announced closures, and President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday night to assuage fears of the disease, known as COVID-19.

Although the president unveiled new measures his administration plans to implement to combat the pandemic over the next few days and weeks, including announcing new travel restrictions on Europe, after his Oval Office address, concern in the country grew. Among those who were interviewed after 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.

The poll conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, asked Americans about their concerns about contracting the disease, Trump’s response to the global pandemic, and the disruption to their daily lives as efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and slow down the outbreak continue to quickly increase in urgency.

Partisanship appears to be the most decisive factor of Americans’ concerns, even more than age. While 29% of 18- to 29-year-olds are very concerned about catching the illness, 25% of people over 65 years old said the same.

Currently in the United States, there are at least 1,663 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

A majority of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the president’s handling of the response to the coronavirus, while 43% approve. Still, partisanship 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.

But overall, relatively few Americans have changed their behavior since the coronavirus has landed here.

Only 3% said they are now working from home due to the coronavirus. And while about one-quarter of Americans said their lives had been disrupted in some way, either by canceling going out to dinner, taking a vacation, or opting to not vote in person, among other options, 73% have not canceled or postponed activities or events in their daily lives.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® March 11-12, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 502 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5.1 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

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