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Polling Shows Signs of Public Trust in Institutions amid the Pandemic

The ongoing effort to fight COVID-19 wins broad support, even across partisan divides


This article was originally published in Scientific American.

Most say their state and local governments are reacting about right to the coronavirus outbreak

In the face of unprecedented measures to limit social contact at work, at school and on the main streets of communities across the nation, Americans give themselves good marks, with 86% saying people in their households are “reacting about right.” Most also say their local school system is reacting about right (86%), and majorities say the same about their local (74%) or state (72%) government.

These findings from a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19 to 24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, suggest that Americans see the “social distancing” measures urged by public health officials to limit the spread of the disease as generally appropriate.

Large majorities say restrictions on travel, closures of businesses have been necessary responses

Indeed, when Americans consider a number of specific measures taken in recent days and weeks, majorities see each one as a necessary step to address the spread of coronavirus. Roughly nine-in-ten say travel restrictions (95%), cancellations of major sporting and entertainment events (91%), K-12 school closings (89%), and efforts to limit the size of social gatherings (87%) have been necessary to address the outbreak. Large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, as well as those who lean toward each party, agree that each of these is a necessary step.

There is comparatively more partisan disagreement over whether it has been necessary to require most businesses to close, though, there too, majorities of Republicans (61%) and Democrats (81%) call this a necessary step.

Most in both parties say public health, state and local officials are doing well responding to COVID-19 outbreak

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