You know a public health scare is significant when it can breakthrough all the noise of a presidential election. And the coronavirus has done just that.
In a survey of nearly 3,600 U.S. adults conducted last week, CivicScience found that 32% of Americans are “very concerned” about the potential of the coronavirus becoming an epidemic in the U.S. Another 44% are at least “somewhat concerned.”
Concern gets higher with age, as 35% of Americans aged 65+ are very concerned and 83% are concerned at some level. Women and the highly educated are also significantly more likely than men to be worried about a potential epidemic.
Bigger Than the Flu?
Even as pesky strands of the flu virus are hitting Americans in big numbers (including people in my own house), coronavirus fears rise to a higher level. When CivicScience asked respondents which concerned them most, 32% chose the coronavirus over the flu (24%) and 26% said they feared both equally. Men, people living in rural areas, and those aged 65 or older were more likely to be concerned about the spread of the flu.
To Travel or Not to Travel?
By Super Bowl Sunday, 15% of Americans said that fears over the virus had affected their travel plans, including 4% of Americans who said they had canceled a trip as result. Over 40% of those cancelers identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, which makes sense.
Regular business travelers, however, don’t seem to be as worried. Among people who travel out of town for business at least once a quarter, only 10% report being “very concerned” about the coronavirus developing into a global pandemic.
Maybe it’s early in the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and abroad. Or hopefully it will fade as global leaders take steps to halt its spread. We will keep tracking public sentiment either way.