Poll: Trust in Fauci and the CDC is Declining Ahead of the November Election


Six months into a global pandemic and public trust is waning in its support for public health officials in charge of the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, paints a dreary picture of the public’s attitude regarding the pandemic ahead of the November presidential election. The poll finds that the public is still largely divided on who they trust to deliver information about the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 6 million Americans. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is still considered the most trustworthy person to deliver accurate information regarding the virus and ongoing attempts to develop treatments and a vaccine, according to the poll. Fauci was followed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the overall trust in Fauci and the CDC has declined a bit, particularly among Republican voters, the poll found.

According to the poll, Fauci is largely trusted to deliver accurate information regarding the pandemic by about 68% of the population. The trust level is high in 37% of those who were polled and a bit more tempered in 31%. Only 11% said they had no trust in Fauci, who has served six presidential administrations. Fifteen percent said they had only a little trust in him. The poll showed support in Fauci increased among Democrats and declined sharply by 29% among Republicans since a previous poll conducted in April.

The CDC has a 67% favorable polling rating, with 25% of those who were queried saying they trusted the agency a great deal, while 42% said they trust the agency “a fair amount.” Thirty-one percent of the polled individuals said they have little to no trust in the CDC. The share of adults who trust the CDC to provide reliable information has decreased by 16 percentage points since April, the poll shows.

Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force was seen by 53% of those polled as a reliable source of information. President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, had trust ratings of 40% and 52%, respectively. The poll was completed ahead of revelations by veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that Trump knew of the seriousness of the coronavirus in the early part of 2020 but chose to minimize and even dismiss those concerns in public.

While the global pandemic continues to rage across the United States and the death toll nears 200,000, public health will take a back seat to the economy in the 2020 election, the poll found. The KFF poll found 32% of voters believe the economy is the most important issue in the election with the coronavirus coming in second with 20%. That divide is largely partisan, with Republican voters expressing more concern over the economy and Democrats more focused on public health concerns.

The majority of those polled express worry the government will rush a vaccine through approval before clinical studies can be completed that will demonstrate safety and efficacy. Overall, 62% held this view, which, again, is largely broken down along political lines. The poll shows 85% of Democrats and 61% of independents believe this will be a concern compared to 35% of Republicans.

Few of those who were polled believe that a vaccine will be available before the day of the November election. And, the poll notes that trust in the safety and efficacy of a vaccine against the coronavirus is slim, particularly if one is quickly approved. Only 42% of people said they would get vaccinated under the conditions of this scenario, while 54% said they would decline.

The poll also found some misconceptions remain regarding the pandemic, including one in five who say wearing a face mask is harmful to your health and one in four who say hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for coronavirus, despite the numerous clinical studies that have shown the malaria drug has not proven effective. Three in four Republicans have at least one misconception, compared to 46% of independents and one in four Democrats, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.

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