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President Trump is telling Americans not to be afraid of coronavirus, as the national death toll from the pandemic tops 210,000. Cases are again climbing in much of the country -- but attitudes about the threat posed by COVID-19 vary greatly. Amna Nawaz explores why so many Americans feel fears about the virus are overblown.
As we have been reporting, the president is telling Americans not to be afraid of coronavirus, while the death toll in the U.S. tops 210,000.
Cases are climbing again in much of the country. But attitudes about the threat vary greatly.
Our Amna Nawaz explores why so many Americans think fears about the virus are overblown.
It's become the story of two pandemics. Even as the virus surges in multiple states, hundreds of Americans die every day, and the U.S. leads the world in infections and deaths, millions of Americans don't see the virus as a threat.
Why? To try to understand, we spoke today to Bruce Penuel…
Things are different.
… a 68-year-old retired police officer from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and, in Chattanooga, to 57-year-old Pam O'Neill.
I am a former nurse, and I'm from Tennessee.
Also to 41-year-old Addul Ali, a small business owner.
I live in a little town called Kannapolis, North Carolina.
All Republicans planning to vote for President Trump, none believe the virus is as bad as experts warn.
We asked them all if they know anyone who's been sick or died from COVID.
By the grace of God, I haven't had any family members to get sick because of COVID. I do have some friends that have had family members that have been sick.
No, I do not know anyone who's had COVID or has passed away from COVID.
I don't know personally of anyone who has died from it. I do believe the pandemic has been overblown, that we are taking too many cautions, and changing our lives too drastically.
We asked how much the pandemic impacts their day to day lives.
I don't think my day-to-day life, being retired, has been affected greatly by it. Often, I'm outside, obviously, and I'm not wearing a mask outside, but I'm not afraid to talk to people. You know, I'm not hiding.
From a business perspective, at the beginning, it was really tough, but now, as things just starting to open back up, we're recovering a little bit more.
I do wear my mask when I go out, because it is mandated. I think there's a lot of good information for those who are going to look for it, to take a look at it, to let you know that this is survivable.
We asked how worried they are that they or someone in their community will get sick.
We don't know a lot about it. So, I don't know exactly how I'm going to get it.
Chances are, if you catch it, no, and you're in reasonably good health, that you will be OK. So, I haven't been worried about getting it.
So, I feel very confident that since I don't have any preexisting, underlining health issues, that I would not only survive COVID, but I may be one of those lucky ones that might actually be asymptomatic.
First of all, these are people who don't necessarily feel the immediacy of this.
Lee Miringoff is the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, home of the Marist poll.
When you're talking about Americans who don't see the virus as a threat, who are you talking about?
They are people who tend to be in more rural areas, where the virus has not been as much,– as pronounced.
But they tend to be people who are part of the president's base. They tend to be male. They tend to be people who are not likely to have a college education. The folks who are supporting Trump, that group, that core group, are the ones who are most likely to follow him on this issue.
The partisan divide is clear in the latest "PBS NewsHour"/Marist/NPR poll, showing, while 76 percent of Republicans trust the president's pandemic message, only 5 percent of Democrats do.
But Miringoff says, regardless of what they're experiencing now, Americans are mostly on the same page about what's ahead.
A majority of Americans think that this is not going to end anytime soon, that there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel.
So what we're seeing is a lot of people who think, we're in for the long haul, despite what the president says.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.
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Amna Nawaz joined PBS NewsHour in April 2018 and serves as the program's chief correspondent and primary substitute anchor.
Kate Grumke is a politics producer at PBS NewsHour.
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