Americans divided over government handling of coronavirus outbreak


President Donald Trump acknowledged Sunday for the first time that deaths in the United States from coronavirus could reach 100,000 or more, adding that if the death toll stays at or below 100,000, “we all together have done a very good job.”

(CNN) — Americans are split over how the federal government is doing at preventing the spread of coronavirus, but an increasing number say they feel prepared to handle an infection should one happen in their family, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

About half (48%) of Americans say in the new poll that the government has done a good job in preventing the spread of coronavirus, which is about the same as the 49% who said so in an early March survey. About as many, 47%, now say the government has done a poor job, an increase of four points in roughly three weeks.

Although views on how the government is doing remain sharply divided by party (77% of Republicans say the federal government is doing a good job preventing the virus’ spread vs. 27% of Democrats), much of the increase in the percentage rating the government poorly comes among Republicans and independents (up seven points each). Democrats rate the effort about the same as they did in early March.

About three-quarters (76%) of Americans say they feel at least somewhat prepared to deal with a coronavirus infection if they or someone in their family were to contract the virus. That is up eight points since early March.

There remain large gaps in feeling prepared by socio-economic status, as well as by race and by gender, with all of these divides appearing to hold across partisan lines. The poll holds some indication, though, that those gaps are beginning to shrink.

Women report feeling less prepared than men: 73% of women say they are “very” or “somewhat” prepared to deal with a coronavirus infection in their families, compared with 80% of men.

Among Americans with household incomes of $50,000 or less, 69% say they feel at least somewhat prepared to handle an infection in their family; that rises to 83% among those in households with incomes of $50,000 or more.

Likewise, education is a divider. About 8 in 10 who hold college degrees (81%) say they feel at least somewhat prepared to handle an infection vs. 74% who do not have a four-year college degree.

Among different racial groups, 80% of whites say they feel at least somewhat prepared to deal with an infection, compared with 72% of African Americans and 64% of Latinos.

Latinos have one of the highest rates of feeling “not at all prepared” to manage an infection, according to the poll, with 17% saying they feel they lack any preparation to manage a coronavirus infection should a family member come down with it.

That feeling of being completely unprepared stands at 9% overall, but it tops 10% among several groups: Those who do not have health insurance (17%), people under age 35 (15%), those with incomes below $50,000 (14%), those with a high school degree or less (12%), political independents (12%) and blacks (11%).

But the share of Americans who say they now feel prepared to handle a coronavirus infection has grown more quickly among those with less formal education and with lower income levels. Among those with incomes under $50,000 annually, that number has jumped 14 points, compared with a five-point increase among those with higher incomes. Among those who lack a college degree, there’s been a 12-point increase in feeling prepared to handle an infection, compared with a non-significant two-point change among those with college degrees.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS March 24 through 29 among a random national sample of 1,013 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer as part of the SSRS Omnibus survey. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


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