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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.

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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.

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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.

  • Good God. Continue to drink Trump’s Kool-aid. Oh, and BTW, he didn’t say those things to Bob Woodward he was recorded saying.

  • Only 9000 people have died from covid-19 alone. You have a 1 in 100 chance of dying in a car crash. Worth crushing life time of work and the American dream? Don’t think so.

    • Yes…just about 9,000 deaths ALONE are contributed to COVID19…the other 181K+/- are caused by an ‘underlying medical condition’, such as Obesity, Diabetes or COPD…

      Did you know that Diabetes can lead to serious complications which can affect many different parts of your body. Each week diabetes causes thousands of complications like stroke, kidney failure, heart attack and heart failure.

      So, I ask you…if you had Diabetes and your kidneys decided to stop working and a donor wasn’t found and you wound up dying…what killed you?

      Kidney Failure or Diabetes?
      Remember…your kidneys would NOT HAVE FAILED if you didn’t have Diabetes!!

      Answer: Diabetes killed you!

      Same goes with having an underlying health issue and contracting COVID19…

      FYI: Those who contract the ‘flu’ don’t die because of the Flu…they die because of other infections and complications that can occur when you have the flu, particularly pneumonia!

      So, if you’re going to downplay the severity of just how bad COVID is, then you have to downplay the severity of how bad the “Flu” is when it comes to having an underlying health condition!!

      You’re an ID-10-T!

  • Who wrote this article — I have zero confidence in the CDC and Fauci. We are still waiting for any study to show hydroxychloroquine with zinc doesn’t work. Big Pharma and Deep State all want to profit off of their vaccines. You can tell this author did no research. Nothing works once the virus has replicated inside your body so much and did so much damage. By the way, we are going to find that Ivermectin probably works better than Hydroxychloroquine. So how many deaths will it take before we finally get wise. Just follow the money and the Democrats to power. The media hates Trump and doesn’t follow the data. And I can’t stand Trump for so many reasons, but he is right on the money on the hydroxychloroquine.

  • If you go outside of the US press where it is a political issue, (press, not medical community) hydroxychloroquine has proved to be effective, with some caveats. (Notably, much more effective when given early, and with zinc and other drugs. Not advised for people with heart conditions). It’s effects are limited to reducing the intensity of the symptoms. So no, it’s not a “miracle cure”, but may be beneficial in some cases. It’s not a vaccine. That IS the science, and shouldn’t be hard to wrap your mind around unless your intellect is limited to mindlessly bleating “Baaah! Baaah! Orange man bad! Baaaah!”

    Since the author does seem to want to mix medicine with politics, regarding the second part of the article, if swing voters are voting economy and criminal justice, Trump wins easily and by a wide margin.

  • Elected Republican officials and many of their supporters are immune to medical and environmental science as it interferes with their PAC and campaign funding from corporate and wealthy donors.

    Most Republicans reject public health funding and initiatives outright simply because they involve government funding and government implementation. The private and for-profit healthcare entities are incapable of planning and coordinating a pandemic level infectious disease. If you benchmark the U.S. response and results of the COVID-19 pandemic to all other democratic countries, the U.S. has done far worse (exception: U.K. under Boris) than all of these countries.

    America’s resiliency has been severely tested in 2020, and it has been shown to be grossly inadequate in its response to an epidemic. One may argue political views and theories about governing, but the results of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic unequivocally have shown that our current institutions are incapable of protecting American citizens from a pandemic. November 3 is the time to make the changes to correct this.

  • This article claims that wearing masks has no negative impact on health. Does that include mental or social health?
    The evidence is increasing that mental/social health is significantly impacted by mask wearing.
    We are hyperobsessed with one measure of health (infection) and negligent of other factors.

    • Indeed there is NO study that suggests the general population wearing cloth (not medical, not respirators) masks on a day to day basis has any beneficial effect.

      And having someone cough while photographing droplets with a backlight in a lab tells you nothing. Their use by the general population in the real world is a very different situation.

      While there is a theoretical possibility that such masks could produce a very minor reduction in airborne transmission under certain limited circumstances, the primary means of transmission is believed to be through contact with contaminated surfaces.

      And for that mode of transmission, masks put people at greater risk, as masks are constantly adjusted, require hands touching the face, and the masks themselves become contaminated. People take them off, set them down, drop them, and if you look around, there are a lot of people who obviously do not wash them.

      Where is the sweet spot in the trade off? No one knows.

  • Mr. Florko, Is this journalism? Why would you lean into phrases like ” . . . despite a dearth of evidence supporting that conclusion.” or, “. . . despite a plethora of studies debunking that claim.” Both statements are gross oversimplifications and deserve documented support. Otherwise, you are throwing opinions into the wind to see how far they travel.

    • These are facts that are easily found in the dozens of studies showing no benefit for HCQ. These are facts that have been replicated multiple times by multiple groups and represent findings that have been widely disseminated. As such, they do not need documentation in every instance.

  • This poll was taken before the Bob Woodward book’s revelations were made public with Trump on tape saying he purposely downplayed the virus and knew in early February that it was dangerous and airborne. The public’s perceptions of the scientists and Dr. Fauci may well change with the aforementioned revelations.

    • Woodward’s book won’t make any difference. So many people have hit Trump with accusations and charges that don’t hold up to scrutiny that now on believe them anymore. Also, the American people know that the CDC is owned by Big Pharma. The same people who killed us with prescription opiates. Anyone who trusts them is nuts.

  • To instill confidence, the vaccine should first be administered in phases. The first phase should be all elected officials in the US, all judicial offices all pharmaceutical company employees, and all vaccine advocates, such as Bill Gates. In addition, all of their family members, especially, their children should be vaccinated.

    The second phase should begin after a suitable waiting period of six months or so, the rest of the public can make an informed decision after the side effects from the vaccine become known.

    It’s called leading by example.

    • Caleb, you are named after a great man who led by example. In addition, our first six months has led to almost 200,000 deaths. Why advocate to wait another six months on taking a vaccine “to instill confidence”?

  • Isn’t this statement committing the rookie analysis error of “correlation does not equal causation?”: “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.” How can you reliably say Trump’s critiques have “hit harder” and therefore caused this trend? Total amateur hour for a pub called “Stat”.

    Further, the hydroxychloroquin issue is, at the very least, debateable. Several of the detractor studies have been retracted, found illegitimate for sampling issues, or for studying the drug as a late stage treatment (which it is not). And on the other hand there’s a mountain of evidence supporting use of the drug as an effective therapeutic in early stages of the disease – even by a Yale infectious disease expert. So who made you the arbiter of truth on this issue? Add in that author here has anti-trump sentiment up and down his twitter posts and I think we can all see your bias showing guys.

    • The hydroxychloroquine issue is not debatable. Those “mountain of evidence” trials all have confounding issues (poor randimization, the use other of theraphies, non-existance controls). The studies that didn’t have those flaws found no difference from placebo. The author has a better grasp on the science than you do.

    • And if you’re talking about Dr. Harvey Risch, he’s constantly citing bad science and many collegues have come out criticizing him. Keep up.

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