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Americans see months-long pandemic fight ahead — CBS News poll

Poll: 53% approve of Trump's coronavirus response
CBS News poll: 53% approve of Trump's handling of coronavirus 07:00

Most Americans (57%) say the nation's efforts to combat the coronavirus are going badly right now, most call it a crisis and see a months-long process before it is contained. But the public is pinning its hopes heavily on the nation's scientists, with eight in 10 optimistic about their ability to eventually find a cure or vaccine, and most are also optimistic that Americans themselves can take steps to slow the spread. 


Fifty-three percent say President Trump is doing a good job handling the outbreak, and 54% are optimistic about his administration's ability to handle it from here, though 66% also feel the Trump administration was not prepared to deal with it when it started. 


Fifty-two percent say Congress is doing a good job handling the outbreak so far, too, though few call it a very good job. An 85% majority approves of the idea of sending checks to middle- and lower-income Americans to offset the impact of the virus. Similarly large majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents approve of such a plan. 

Americans widely trust medical and healthcare professionals generally (88% trust) and in particular, the CDC (82% trust), for information on the virus and what to do. But a large number also trust friends and family (73%.) Slightly fewer trust their state's governor (66%). 


Comparably fewer, 44%, trust President Trump, and 43% trust the national media, but the partisan splits both elicit are especially notable. Republicans trust the president for accurate information on the virus (90%) as much as or more than they trust medical professionals (90%) and the CDC (84%).


While Democrats do trust the media, most Republicans don't and think they are overreacting to the outbreak. Democrats, on the other hand, don't trust the president to give accurate information. 

A large majority — 72% — of Americans think it will take months or longer for the virus to be contained. That includes 47% who think it will be months, another 17% say within the year, and 8% even longer than that or never. Only a quarter think containment will come in the next few weeks.


A majority of Republicans also see a multi-month process — with 59% saying months to a year or more — though four in 10 Republicans, the highest of any partisan group, feel it will only take a few weeks or it has already been contained.

While most view the outbreak as very serious and many call it a crisis, there are signs of optimism. Most are optimistic about scientists' ability to find a vaccine or a cure (82%), and in their local hospitals' ability to handle an outbreak (65%), as well as in Americans' ability to do what's needed to stop the spread of the virus (59%). 

Most are optimistic about the Trump administration's ability to handle the outbreak but there are stark partisan divides on this. 


This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,190 U.S. residents interviewed between March 21-23, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is +/- 2.3 points.


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