Americans with lower incomes and less education were more like to say the spread of infectious disease was a major threat to the US, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday.
Nearly all US adults said the spread of infectious disease is a threat to the country, but people who made less than $50,000 per year were 10 percentage points more concerned about the threat posed by infectious disease than those with higher incomes in a survey conducted in March.
Americans with less than a college degree were nine percentage points more likely to be concerned than those who have a college degree or more education.
The Covid-19 outbreak has laid bare inequality in the US, where there is no requirement for employers to provide paid sick leave and health insurance is not guaranteed to every citizen.
The outbreak has caused more than 16 million people to lose their jobs in the past three weeks. Reports show that immigrant communities, black people and Americans with lower incomes are more vulnerable to the economic and health affects of Covid-19.
In general, Americans ranked infectious disease as more of a threat than terrorism, cyber attacks and climate change in the survey which took place from 3 to 29 March, while Covid-19 outbreaks prompted states and cities to lockdown. Nearly every American is now under a stay-at-home order.
About eight in 10 people (79%) said infectious disease is a major threat to the country, while 19% said it was a minor threat. Roughly 2% of people said the spread of infectious disease was not a threat.
This is an increase from the same poll in 2016 when 60% said the spread of infectious disease was a major threat. Pew did not survey people about the issue in similar polls in the years between then and 2020.
Concern about climate change has increased steadily in the past seven years, with six in 10 Americans saying it is a major threat. The increase is mostly among Democrats, while Republicans’ views on the issue has been steady in that time.
Significantly more Democrats see climate change as a major threat (88%) than Republicans (31%). Of the 11 issues weighed in the survey, Republicans showed the least concern about climate change.