- Recent ratings of CDC communication are more positive than earlier ones
- Biden generally rated well for communication, approach to the situation
- Americans more positive about Democratic than Republican governors' approach
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. views that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has clearly communicated a plan of action to deal with the coronavirus have shifted during the pandemic. Americans have been more likely to agree than disagree the CDC has communicated a clear plan at certain times, and more likely to disagree at others.
In recent months, the public has been more positive than negative about the agency's communications, including in a late July measure that found 39% agreeing and 32% disagreeing. This most recent reading preceded the controversy over the agency's revised guidance on the need for vaccinated Americans to wear face masks in public.
Line graph. Agreement and disagreement that the Centers for Disease Control has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus. In June 2020, Americans were divided with 33% agreeing and 32% disagreeing. By September, opinion had turned more negative than positive, with 41% disagreeing and 25% agreeing. Opinion was divided in October 2020 through December 2020, before becoming negative again in January 2021. Since March, opinion has been more positive than negative, including 39% agreement and 32% disagreement, similar to the readings in most months.
Since June 2020, Gallup has asked Americans, as part of its online COVID-19 tracking survey, to indicate whether they agree or disagree that the CDC and other government actors have communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus.
After initially being divided about the agency's communication in polling conducted last summer, Americans grew more critical of it last fall amid concerns about possible political influence in the vaccine approval process. In September, 41% disagreed and 25% agreed the CDC had communicated a clear plan. The public gave a similarly critical review in January, during the initial slow rollout of the vaccination process and when U.S. coronavirus deaths and infections were peaking.
In subsequent months, as the coronavirus situation improved, Americans tended to be more positive than negative toward the CDC. The exception was a divided May reading after the agency abruptly announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear face masks in public.
In late July, the CDC came under criticism after it issued a seeming reversal of that guidance, saying that fully vaccinated people should wear masks when out in public in areas dealing with the increased spread of the delta variant of the virus. That announcement was made after the July 19-26 survey finished, so the most recent reading does not reflect its impact on public opinion toward the CDC.
In the latest survey, Americans give more positive ratings to the COVID-19 communications from President Joe Biden and their state governor than from the CDC. Overall, 48% of U.S. adults agree and 35% disagree that Biden has communicated a clear plan of action. Forty-six percent agree and 31% disagree that their state's governor has done so.
|President Joe Biden||48||17||35||+13|
|Your state governor||46||23||31||+15|
|Gallup Panel, July 19-26, 2021|
Residents of states with Democratic governors give their state chief executive's communication more positive ratings than residents of Republican-led states do. Fifty-one percent of those with Democratic governors agree their leader has communicated a clear plan, while 26% disagree. For those living in states with Republican governors, 41% agree and 36% disagree.
Public More Likely to Agree Than Disagree CDC Has Right Approach to COVID-19
A new question in the July survey asked Americans whether they agree or disagree that the same set of government leaders has the "right approach to dealing with the coronavirus situation." On this measure, Americans are more likely to agree that the CDC and Biden have the right approach than to agree their governor does.
Forty-six percent of U.S. adults agree Biden has the right approach, and 42% say the same about the CDC, roughly 10 percentage points more than disagree for each. By comparison, Americans divide about evenly on whether their governor has the right approach -- 41% agree, and 37% disagree.
|President Joe Biden||46||18||36||+10|
|Your state governor||41||22||37||+4|
|Gallup Panel, July 19-26, 2021|
On this measure as well, Democratic governors are rated more positively than Republican governors. Forty-seven percent of residents of Democratic-led states agree their governor has the right approach to dealing with the coronavirus, while 33% disagree. In contrast, more of those living in states with Republican governors disagree (41%) than agree (36%) with their approach.
One contributing factor to the disparity in governor ratings is that Republicans are less positive about Republican governors than Democrats are about Democratic governors. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans living in states with Republican governors agree their governor has the right approach to the coronavirus situation, while 74% of Democrats in Democratic-led states say the same.
The CDC has been a major source of information about COVID-19 for Americans, but communicating about the virus has proved challenging. The public has often not reacted well to changing guidance, even if it is grounded in science and based on changing circumstances -- particularly when it comes to advice about the wearing of face masks.
It is not yet clear what the latest change in guidance on face masks has done to Americans' evaluations of the CDC. Gallup's late August update of its COVID-19 tracking survey should provide clues. What is clear from Gallup's tracking of ratings of the CDC's communication on COVID-19 is that public opinion has been responsive to various events and controversies, but sharp changes in attitudes seen in one month usually do not persist beyond that month.
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