In the past month, as the coronavirus moved from an outbreak mainly limited to China to a worldwide pandemic, the percentage of Americans worried about being exposed to the virus has surged, while their confidence in the government to handle an outbreak has declined sharply. And the percentage expecting significant harm to the world economy has more than doubled.
Six in 10 Americans are now "very" (26%) or "somewhat worried" (34%) that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the virus, up from 36% very or somewhat worried in the initial Feb. 3-16 poll. Increased worry is apparent among all major subgroups -- though much more so among Democrats and less so among Republicans.
Among subgroups, political party identification reflects the starkest differences in levels of worry about coronavirus exposure. Democrats (73%) are the most worried of any group, and their level of worry has increased the most out of any group. Meanwhile, less than half of Republicans (42%) report having this level of concern -- the lowest of any group Gallup measured. Republicans' worries have increased by the smallest amount between the two polls. The two groups were about equally likely to be worried in February.
Last month, more than three in four Americans expressed confidence in the government to handle an outbreak of coronavirus, reflecting a higher level of confidence than Gallup has found for the government's ability to handle previous health scares.
But this level of confidence in the government's ability has dropped substantially, to the current level of 61% of Americans saying they are "very" (24%) or "somewhat confident" (37%). The overall drop reflects large decreases in confidence among independents and particularly Democrats. Now, less than half of Democrats express confidence in the government's ability to handle an outbreak.
Meanwhile, Republicans' confidence in the government's ability remains as high as it was in February, with nearly nine in 10 saying they are very or somewhat confident.