Small increase in attention to COVID-19 news; fewer Republicans now say the pandemic is sufficiently well controlled by the United States

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The percentage of Americans who follow COVID-19 news very closely has increased slightly since March 2021, when this question was last asked, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted January 10-17, 2022. The survey also revealed that big proponents of gaps remain in attention and opinions on the pandemic.

Overall, 37% of American adults say they follow the news of the coronavirus epidemic very closely. This represents an increase from 31% in March 2021 and returns to the level of interest seen in the fall and winter of 2020 – a time when cases were increasing, businesses were facing closures and many schools were returning. to virtual learning.

In late March 2020, during the early stages of the outbreak, more than half of all Americans (57%) were following news about the coronavirus very closely, a percentage that marked the peak of public attention. Earlier in the month, 51% of American adults said the same.

For the past two years, the Pew Research Center has tracked Americans’ views on the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey aimed to measure the attention the public has given to it over time, their assessment of how it has been handled and whether they think it has been turned into a bigger or smaller transaction than it really isn’t.

For this recent survey, 5,128 American adults were interviewed from January 10-17, 2022. All of those who participated are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited through random national sampling of residents. addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with the answers, and its methodology.

This is the latest report from the Pew Research Center’s ongoing survey of the state of news, information and journalism in the digital age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with the generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

One finding that has remained fairly stable since the end of 2020 is that Democrats and those leaning toward the Democratic Party are much more likely than Republicans and Republicans leaning to say they follow news about the outbreak very closely. . According to the new survey, 45% of Democrats pay very high attention to news of the outbreak, compared to 30% of Republicans, two slight increases from March 2021. This party divide was not seen at the start of the pandemic, but it appeared in the summer of 2020 and has been ever since.

Changes on both sides of the political aisle in views on how the United States has controlled the outbreak

A key COVID-19 issue that has produced a sharp partisan divide is whether or not the United States has controlled the coronavirus outbreak as much as it could have.

A line graph showing that partisan differences in views on how the United States has controlled the coronavirus outbreak have narrowed

Since the question was first asked in September 2020, Republicans have been much more likely than Democrats to say it has been vetted as much as it could have been. While that’s still the case, the gap between the two has narrowed, with Republicans becoming less likely to share this view and Democrats more likely.

In January, 41% of the general public said the outbreak had been controlled as much as possible, roughly on par with the 42% who held that view last March. Within these numbers, however, there are big shifts on both sides of the political aisle. Currently, 56% of Republicans say the United States has controlled the outbreak as much as it could have. While still in the majority, that percentage is down from 70% in March 2021. Democrats, on the other hand, have become more likely to share this view: 30% now hold that view, down from 19% in March.

A line chart showing that partisan gaps remain in the importance given to the COVID-19 outbreak

There has been less partisan movement over whether the coronavirus outbreak has been turned into a bigger or smaller matter than it actually is, or whether the attention given to it was to almost right. About four in ten American adults (39%) now say the pandemic has received about the right amount of attention. About the same proportion (38%) say it has been upgraded to a bigger deal, and 22% say it has been upgraded to a smaller deal – figures that have remained fairly stable since September 2020.

The major partisan differences on this issue have also moved very little. Four times as many Republicans (64%) as Democrats (16%) now say the pandemic has been exaggerated. At the same time, Democrats are almost four times more likely than Republicans (33% vs. 9%) to say it has been downplayed.

Finally, Democrats remain more likely than Republicans to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak with others. A sizable portion of Democrats (45%) say they discuss the outbreak with others almost all or most of the time, compared to 28% of Republicans. Conversely, Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to say they hardly ever or never discuss it (21% vs. 11%). The remaining 51% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats say they sometimes discuss the outbreak with others.

Followers of both parties are less likely now than in April 2020 to say they discuss the pandemic almost all or some of the time. The share of Democrats saying this fell 5 percentage points, from 50% in 2020 to 45% in the new survey, while the share of Republicans fell 11 points, from 39% to 28%.

Note: Here are the questions used for the report, along with the answers and its methodology.

Amy Mitchell is director of journalism research at the Pew Research Center.

Jacob Liedke is a research assistant specializing in journalism and media at the Pew Research Center.

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