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As cases increase, American trust in COVID-19 information from federal, state, and local governments continues to decline

Jul 20, 2020
2 MIN. READ

Editor’s Note (7/20/2020): This article includes findings from our fourth wave of data collection that fielded June 22 through June 29. This fourth wave collected another 1,000 completes using a census-balanced, national non-probability sample. The new information, shared below, examines trends in American trust in government to respond to the current crisis. Learn more about the ICF COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults.

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At the end of April, various media outlets reported that state stay-at-home orders had helped flatten the curve. Subsequently, in May, many states began rescinding (or letting expire) these orders, allowing non-essential businesses to open with restrictions. In June, reported cases of COVID-19 began to increase again. As of June 22nd, when we commenced our fourth wave of data collection, the United States had registered approximately 2.3 million positive cases of COVID-19, and over 115,000 deaths.

In May, 36% of Americans reported that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind us, an increase from April (31%) and March (12%). However, this trend reversed to 30% in June, coinciding with an increase in daily new cases.

 
3 in 10 Americans felt the worst of COVID-19 was behind us in June

In June, trust in the information provided by federal, state, and local governments fell for the third straight month.

In June, American trust in the information provided by federal, state, and local government continued to decrease. Trust in the federal government has decreased by 15 points since March, and less than half (48%) of Americans indicated that they trusted the information from the federal government a great deal or a fair amount. Trust in state and local governments has also seen a considerable decrease (13 points since March). American trust in public health experts has been the highest when compared to other sources across all survey waves, with 77% of Americans in June indicating that they trust the information from public health experts a great deal or fair amount. But in March, 87% of Americans trusted the information from public health experts, so even trust in public health experts has been decreasing as the pandemic has worn on, although to a lesser extent than the decline for trust in state and local government.

 
In June, American trust in COVID-19 information provided by government declines

Confidence in government and agencies to deal with COVID-19 decreased further in June.

Similar to trust, American confidence in government and government agencies also continued to decrease in June. Barely half of Americans reported having confidence in the federal government to deal with the outbreak, compared to 59% in March. The CDC has seen a similar decrease since March, but more than three quarters of Americans (77%) still have confidence in the CDC to deal with the outbreak.

 
How much confidence do you have in the following organizations to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19?

In contrast, trust in scientists to act in the best interest of the public remains unchanged from May to June.

 
How much confidence, if any, do you have in scientists to act in the best interest of the public?

Watch this space

How will American trust in government change as confirmed cases continue to spike and the summer season draws to a close? How will public sentiment evolve as states refine their guidelines in an effort to contain the spread? We will report key findings from our data collection efforts over the coming weeks and share this information with agencies and public health officials in support of their response to COVID-19. Sign up to receive alerts as we roll out upcoming results and package our insights into reports.

Learn more about the ICF COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults.

 
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