WASHINGTON — A new poll paints a bleak picture of Americans’ views toward the coronavirus pandemic.

The poll, from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, finds that the public’s trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S.’s top doctors, like Anthony Fauci, is rapidly dropping, particularly among Republicans. It also finds that a sizable percentage of Americans still hold a number of incorrect beliefs about the pandemic, and that less than half of Americans surveyed would want to get vaccinated against Covid-19 if a vaccine was available before November.

The poll, which was conducted from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, provides a striking glimpse into how the U.S. government’s chaotic response to the coronavirus pandemic is sowing distrust among both Republicans and Democrats. It also reveals growing partisan divides about reliable sources of health information.


Public confidence in the CDC has dropped 16 points since April, according to the new poll. The agency has been widely criticized both by public health advocates, who want the agency to more frequently stand up to political pressure, and by Trump, who has accused it of being overly cautious and thwarting the U.S. recovery from the ongoing pandemic.

Trump’s critiques hit harder: Republicans’ confidence in the CDC has dropped 30 points since April. Democrats’ trust in the CDC has dropped less precipitously, from 86% to 74% over the same time period.


The CDC and Director Robert Redfield aren’t the only ones facing a crisis of confidence. The U.S. public’s overall trust in Fauci, the National Institutes of Health’s top infectious disease doctor, has declined 10% since April. Republicans have particularly soured on him: His favorables dropped nearly 30% among Republicans since April. Democrats’ confidence in Fauci, meanwhile, has increased from 80% to 86% since April.

The public writ large still trusts Fauci to provide reliable information more than it trusts the CDC, the White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, President Trump, or former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the new poll. Trump is the least trusted out of the four: Just 40% of those surveyed said they trust Trump to provide reliable information about the pandemic. Fifty-two percent trust Biden.

People in the U.S. also still hold a number of glaring misconceptions about the coronavirus, the KFF poll found.

More than half of Republicans surveyed still believe that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria treatment touted by Trump, is an effective treatment for Covid-19, despite a plethora of studies debunking that claim. Twenty percent of people, regardless of party,  also believe that wearing a mask is harmful for your health, despite a dearth of evidence supporting that conclusion. Fourteen percent falsely believe there is a cure for Covid-19.

The findings come amid growing concern from the American public over the politicization of the U.S. coronavirus response.

Roughly 40% of Americans surveyed in the new KFF poll said that both the FDA and CDC were paying too much attention to politics.

Sixty-two percent of Americans are also worried that the FDA will rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine due to political pressure, according to the new KFF poll. Those findings track closely with a STAT-Harris Poll survey, which found that 78% of Americans worried the Covid-19 vaccine approval process is being motivated more by politics than science.

KFF’s poll also found that a large portion of Americans would decline a vaccine if it was approved before November.

The KFF poll found that only 42% of participants surveyed would want to get vaccinated if a vaccine was approved, and offered for free, before the November election. Republicans were more skeptical about the potential vaccine than Democrats and independents: 60% of Republicans surveyed said they would not want to get the vaccine if it was approved before November.

Participants in the KFF poll were less interested in getting a vaccine than those surveyed in the STAT-Harris poll. STAT’s poll found that 62% percent of participants surveyed said they were likely to get vaccinated if a vaccine was approved before the election.

The new KFF poll comes less than two months before the election. KFF’s poll also casts doubt on the theory that the election will solely be a referendum on Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While 36% of  Democrats said the coronavirus was the most important issue for them in the November election, just 4% of Republicans rated the pandemic as their most important issue. Swing voters rated the economy and criminal justice as more important issues than coronavirus, too.

“Democrats and Republicans are having two different elections,” KFF President Drew Altman said in a press release. “For Democrats, it’s about Covid and race. For Republicans it’s the economy and violence.”

KFF surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,199 adults.

  • In March of this year, according to Johns Hopkins research and CDC numbers, there was never a reason to quarantine healthy people nor shut down businesses. Wear a mask if you like, wear 2 or 3. If you’re sick, stay home or go see your doctor. Take better care of yourself in order to strengthen your immune system. Be responsible for your own health. Trump overreacted to this new strain of flu from China.

  • “More than half of Republicans surveyed still believe that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria treatment touted by Trump, is an effective treatment for Covid-19, despite a plethora of studies debunking that claim. Twenty percent of people, regardless of party, also believe that wearing a mask is harmful for your health, despite a dearth of evidence supporting that conclusion. Fourteen percent falsely believe there is a cure for Covid-19.”
    This is fake news, Florko. Are you trained in either journalism or medicine? Know how to use a search engine? There is tons of evidence to support both HDQ use and none to support he use of masks is effective. Surprised a respected medical organization prints stuff like this.
    Plenty of links here: https://www.scoop.it/topic/recreation-by-joseph-thomas2

  • I may be disappointed in the CDC for giving into political pressure and spreading a message that they know is inaccurate these past three weeks but I understand how it works. I still believe they have our best interest at heart but they need to get a backbone.

    As far a Dr. Fauci is concerned, make no mistake…he is the ONLY one I completely trust. He has remained steadfast and consistent in his messages about this pandemic and how dangerous it is. Despite ridicule, threats, attempts to discredit, slander, and political bullying. If he hadn’t…more would be sick and dead!

  • Why should we trust your statistics when you disseminate false information. A review of 47 international trials finds that hydroxychloroquine used with zinc is highly effective in stopping Cov-2 and reducing the death rate from Covid-19 and the National Bureau of Statistics has found that Govt actions including masks and lock downs have no effect on the outcome of the pandemic that follows a typical Gompertz curve. Organizations like yours that have pushed the false HCQ narrative bear a moral if not legal responsibility for the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Covid-19 patients simply to oppose Trump:
    National Bureau of Economic Research, Four Stylized Facts About COVID-19 (PDF)
    American Institute for Economic Research August 26, 2020

  • I think that Dr Anthony Fauci is an unsung hero & public servant promoting safety covid 19 practises.
    He ranks up there with Dr Frances Kelsey, who held up approving the drug thalidomide for pregnant women, thus saving 10,000s of babies from horrible birth defects.
    Hooray for Dr Tony!!

    • When writing, we do not begin a sentence with a number; we spell it out. We can use numbers anywhere else if we choose, but not at the beginning of a sentence. I see one example in the article of application of that rule. Are there others I missed?

  • The opinions of Trump cultists about Fauci count for little. They have chosen to trust a thoroughly documented liar, sociopath, and con artist, and to discount everyone else, so who cares, really?

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