Commentary

Growing Distrust Of COVID-19 News Is Alarming

Much of the news about the coronavirus pandemic in the past month was encouraging.

Cities and states gradually eased lockdowns, more businesses reopened and retail sales surged. Those positive developments coincided with a steady rise in the number of people who described news coverage of the outbreak as overblown, which is a worrisome sign of complacency.

The percentage of U.S. adults who said the coronavirus pandemic has been exaggerated rose to 38% this month, from 29% in April, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Its study found key differences in how political views affect opinions about coronavirus news, with Republicans more than three times as likely than Democrats to say the outbreak has been made a bigger deal than it really is.

Back in early April, the number of new cases surged to a daily high, though that number likely didn't reflect people who had the coronavirus and didn't realize it. The number of new cases steadily fell until the past few weeks, as data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a huge jump that overtook the April high.

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The increase likely reflects the broader availability of COVID-19 tests, while a more meaningful statistic is the death rate. Still, healthcare providers don't want to see hospitals overflow with new cases requiring intensive care, making the jump in new cases worrisome.

California, Texas and Florida in the past week ordered bars to close down again, determining they had become COVID-19 hot spots. The increase in cases demands greater diligence by the news media in covering the pandemic, especially since 86% of Americans say they continue to follow COVID-19 news, compared to 89% in mid-March, as Pew measured.

2 comments about "Growing Distrust Of COVID-19 News Is Alarming".
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  1. Joshua Chasin from VideoAmp, June 30, 2020 at 12:10 p.m.

    I very much don't want to get political in a work context (friend me on Facebook if you want that) but I would note that Democrats tend to cluster in urban areas and on the coasts, where (becauuse of population density and international travel) the incidence has been higher; whereas Republicans tend to cluster in more rural, less population-dense areas. This geographic difference may be one of several underlying drivers of the perceptual dfferences. Most of the Republicans I know in New York City are as committed to wering a mask as anyone else is. Actually first-hand knowing people who have been sick, and knowing people who have died, from this disease has a way of transcending politics.

  2. PJ Lehrer from NYU, July 1, 2020 at 11:17 a.m.

    The people who think the danger has been exaggerated are now seeing an 80% increase in infections in two weeks.  This poll will look very different at the end of the month.  Wear a mask folks!!!  Better yet, stay home...
    https://pjlehrer.blogspot.com/2020/07/is-fear-real-reason-people-wont-wear.html

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