Half of all Americans support aggressive steps to slow coronavirus in
the U.S.: Reuters poll
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[March 18, 2020]
By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Roughly half of all
Americans want the U.S. government to act more aggressively to slow the
spread of the coronavirus, such as banning large public gatherings and
shutting down all overseas flights, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll
released on Tuesday.
The poll conducted Monday and Tuesday showed public anxieties have
spiked over the last two weeks as the virus has rapidly spread,
infecting more than 5,890 people in the United State and killing at
The government has already barred travel from much of Europe. Many
public schools have closed, and theme parks, professional sports leagues
and cultural events have been suspended.
Forty-eight percent of U.S. adults now say they consider the coronavirus
an "imminent threat" to the country, up 20 percentage points from a
similar survey taken March 2-3.
The number of Americans who said the virus has already affected their
work or business jumped fivefold over the past two weeks, with 46% now
reporting changes at their workplace, including canceled meetings, staff
shortages and decreased sales.
To help control the virus's spread, large proportions of the American
public supported broad restrictions on their movements and activities.
Half of all Americans supported a government ban on large gatherings of
more than a few hundred people. Forty-six percent want to shut down all
overseas flights, while 44% favored closing all public schools.
In addition, 28% said the government should allow doctors to try
experimental vaccines and other untested treatments immediately.
While critics have said the Trump administration did not move quickly
enough to address the crisis, 47 percent of the Americans polled
approved of President Donald Trump's handling of it - up by about 9
percentage points from the March 2-3 poll.
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The survey also showed a jump in the number of Americans taking
steps to protect themselves.
Fifty-one percent said they are avoiding physical contact with
others, up 33 percentage points from the March 2-3 poll. And 25%
have canceled or altered travel plans, up 19 points from before.
Sixteen percent of U.S. adults now work from home and 11% have kept
their children home from school, up 11 points and 9 points,
Only 17% have not altered their daily routine due to the
coronavirus, down 32 points from two weeks ago.
A sizable minority of Americans continue to think coronavirus
concerns are overblown. About 29% strongly agreed that “people are
unnecessarily panicking over the coronavirus” and 30% said the virus
is “mostly a problem for people who travel a lot.”
Republicans were generally less likely than Democrats to express
concern. Among those saying they strongly agree this is a "panic
created by the media over something that isn’t really a big deal for
most people," three in 10 were Republicans and one in 10 were
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English. It gathered
responses from 1,115 adults throughout the United States, and has a
credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 3 percentage
(Reporting by Chris Kahn; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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