COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As President Donald Trump projects a personal fearlessness after contracting COVID-19, new polling shows a majority of Americans still fear the virus that has killed more than 200,000 people stateside and 1 million worldwide.
Nearly two-thirds, or 65%, of respondents in NBC/SurveyMonkey’s latest weekly tracking poll said they are still very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the coronavirus. Thirty-three percent said they are not too worried or not worried at all, and 1% did not answer.
The poll was conducted Sept. 28-Oct. 4 among 50,146 U.S. adults. Results are nationally representative of age, race, sex, education level and geography, and they have a margin of error of just 1 percentage point.
Tuesday’s results are a slight decrease in worriedness from when the question was first asked three months ago. In the beginning of July, 70% said they were worried about contracting the virus and 29% said they were not.
New COVID-19 cases and deaths in that week and last week were about the same, according to an NBC News analysis.
Trump minimizes risk
The latest survey results of Americans’ worries stand in stark contrast to the message that Trump has communicated to the public after testing positive for COVID-19 and being hospitalized for it last week.
In a tweet Monday before leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to continue treatment at the White House, Trump wrote, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
The President, however, also received the top medical care available to fight his COVID-19 infection, including remdesivir (used to treat mild cases of the virus), dexamethasone (a strong steroid used in serious cases) and an experimental antibody treatment.
Trump, in a March interview with the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward published in a new book, said of the virus, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
More than 210,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus and nearly 7.5 million have been infected, according to the latest tracking from Johns Hopkins University.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that “we are learning to live with” COVID-19 in the same way “we have learned to live with” the seasonal flu.
Trump backs up his statement, however, with a false claim that 100,000 Americans die from the flu each year. The actual death toll has been between 3,349 and 48,614 between last year and 1976. The last time 100,000 Americans died from the flu in a single flu season was 1968.
Tuesday’s poll found majorities of Americans are also still worried about how the pandemic will affect the economy and their own households’ finances.
An overwhelming 90% said they are very or somewhat worried that COVID-19 will have a negative economic effect on the U.S., and 70% said they are very or somewhat worried COVID-19 will negatively affect their household finances.
These are slight decreases from when the questions were first asked three months ago, shifting a few points toward less worry but still being overwhelming majorities.
Americans also still largely disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, by a 53%-44% margin. However, 44%, strongly disapprove, compared with just 27% who strongly approve.
In early July, 55% disapproved of his handling and 43% approved.