REUTERS, March 27, 2020
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nearly one in four U.S. adults said they have been laid off or furloughed during the coronavirus outbreak, yet a bipartisan majority of Americans wants businesses to remain closed to slow the spread of the deadly virus despite its impact on the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The March 26-27 opinion poll, released Friday, also showed that the public is much more likely to heed the advice of doctors and local government officials than President Donald Trump.
Trump, who predicted in February that the virus would quickly disappear “like a miracle,” has communicated an uneven level of concern for the disease, which has infected more than 85,000 people in the United States and killed more than 1,200.
The president took a hardline approach earlier this month when he urged people to gather only in small groups. Later he appeared to change course, telling reporters that he would like businesses to reopen by Easter, on April 12.
The poll showed that most Americans do not want that.
Eighty-one percent said the country should continue social distancing initiatives, including “shelter at home” orders, “despite the impact to the economy.” This includes 89% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans.
Only 19% said they would like to end social distancing as soon as possible “to get the economy going again,” including 11% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans.
The commitment to social distancing comes at a time when many Americans are feeling high levels of concern about the economy. Only 30% of Americans said they felt that the U.S. economy was headed in the “right direction,” the lowest level of confidence in polling that goes back to February 2018.
Twenty-three percent said they have already lost their jobs because of the coronavirus, or that their employer was forced to close and “I no longer go to work, but I am still employed by them.”
Many economists expect the U.S. unemployment rate will surpass the 10% level that the country experienced more than a decade ago during the Great Recession. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said it may rise as high as 30%.
The poll also found that 31% of Americans were “very likely” to follow Trump’s recommendations and guidance regarding the coronavirus.
In comparison, 66% said they would follow the instructions of medical doctors and 64% said they would follow the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifty-one percent said they would follow the advice from their state’s governor and 46% would follow healthcare directions from local police.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,112 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3%.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Leslie Adler
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