Updated Research on the Coronavirus Epidemic from the Hidden Common Ground Project

Blog Category: 

  • Public Agenda
  • America Amplified

As part of the Hidden Common Ground initiative with the National Issues Forums network, Public Agenda, USA TODAY and Ipsos released a new poll today showing that more Americans are ready for the US economy to reopen, but most believe it should be done slowly to avoid spreading the virus.

The poll, conducted May 22-26, also showed that 42 percent of Americans think state governments should take the lead in reopening their economies, 20 percent think it should be local governments’ responsibility, and just 16 percent thought it should be up to the federal government. This is the second survey of attitudes toward the pandemic; Public Agenda and Ipsos conducted the first one in late March.

“Most Americans (62 percent) think the government’s priority should be preventing the virus from spreading and keeping people from getting sick or dying – a drop of ten percentage points from March when 72 percent prioritized preventing the virus from spreading,” Public Agenda and Ipsos said in announcing the results. “The May survey found that almost a third of Americans think the government’s main priority should be keeping the economy strong in order to avoid a recession (29 percent, up eight percentage points from the March survey).”

The survey also shows strong, bipartisan support for many public health measures, including 14-day self quarantines for individuals showing symptoms (88 percent supported), wearing masks in public (77 percent), and maintaining social distancing even when businesses reopen (76 percent). Strikingly, 62 percent of Americans also said schools should prepare for continuing online and distance learning in the 2020-21 school year.

Moving to Deliberation

In the coming months, Americans will have opportunities to deliberate in National Issues Forums throughout the country on how to address the daunting challenges we face in the wake of the pandemic.  These forums are organized locally as part of a nationwide network that includes civic groups, faith-based institutions, libraries, senior centers, colleges, and high schools.

The National Issues Forums Institute is currently working with the Kettering Foundation to create a discussion guide on rebuilding our economy as the pandemic comes under control, as well as other guides and advisories to help people deliberate together about out difficult national and local choices.

The new Public Agenda/Ipsos survey, available in full from the Public Agenda website [http://bit.ly/HCG_COVID19_2] is also being covered in depth by USA TODAY and the America Amplified public radio network.