Most Americans say Trump hasn't taken virus seriously: poll

Washington (AFP) –


Americans' worries about the novel coronavirus have shot up in the past week with a majority believing President Donald Trump has not taken it seriously enough, a survey said Wednesday.

The Pew Research Center found that 55 percent of Americans polled from Saturday through Monday believed COVID-19 posed a "major threat to the nation's overall health" -- up from 42 percent who said so when asked on March 10-11.

An overwhelming 70 percent said that the global pandemic presented a major threat for the US economy.

Pew, which surveyed 8,914 adults, found that 52 percent of Americans believed that Trump has not taken the risks of the new coronavirus seriously enough.

Trump initially downplayed the impact of the virus and cast it as a hoax planted by his Democratic opponents.

But in the past week, with Wall Street tanking and infections rising, the Trump administration has taken far-reaching actions such as severely restricting foreign visitors and advising against all large gatherings.

The Pew study found that nearly half of Americans had seen made-up news and that 23 percent, when asked from a list of options, incorrectly said that the virus was developed intentionally in a laboratory.

The survey found that supporters of Trump's Republican Party were much more likely to believe that SARS-CoV-2 was created intentionally.

Scientists widely believe that the new coronavirus emerged in a meat market in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan that butchered exotic animals.