Nearly A Third Of Americans Believe Covid-19 Death Toll Conspiracy Theory
Category: News & PoliticsVia: jbb • 2 weeks ago • 126 comments
By: Alison Durkee (Forbes)
Those same third of Americans are Trump voters...
Even as cases of Covid-19 and hospitalizations surge across the U.S.—and public trust in what President Donald Trump says about the virus falls—a growing number of Americans are buying into a narrative pushed by conservative media and disputed by health experts that suggests the official death count from the coronavirus is inflated, an Axios/Ipsos poll released Tuesday found.
31% of Americans believe that the Covid-19 death toll is less than officially reported—up from 23% in early May. The number of Americans who believe the death toll is inflated is highest among those who get their news from Fox News (61%) and Republicans (59%), while only 9% of Democrats and 7% of those getting their news from CNN and MSNBC believe the same.
The idea that the official coronavirus death toll has been inflated has been pushed most heavily by conservative media—which argue that Democrats are inflating the number to weaponize the death count against Trump—and Axios reported in May that Trump and some of his aides also believe the theory.
A study published July 1 by Virginia Commonwealth University and Yale University researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that coronavirus deaths are actually undercounted, reflecting a commonview held by public health experts and epidemiologists.
The Axios/Ipsos poll also found that respondents are losing trust in the government's coronavirus response: Trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state governments both dropped by 15% from April (to 70% and 57%, respectively), while only 35% of Americans trust the federal government and 31% trust the White House.
Respondents blame their fellow Americans for worsening the pandemic, with 74% of Americans believing their fellow citizens are "behaving in ways that are making the country's recovery from the pandemic somewhat or much worse."
"We live in highly tribal and partisan times, and people are more likely to believe cues and signals from their political leaders than the scientists or the experts," Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, told Axios. "People can see the world around them, they know it's different, but they still can think that the media and politicos are using it to go after Trump."
140,157: The reported number of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. as of July 20, as reported by the CDC.
The growing belief that the death toll is inflated comes as Trump and his allies have attempted to discredit and attack public health experts, particularly infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. The White House has tried to undermine Fauci after the public health expert publicly warned the current pandemic situation was worse than the Trump administration was acknowledging, and Trump was criticized for sharing a tweet suggesting the CDC was "lying." But while the Axios/Ipsos poll shows that the White House and conservative media's messaging is landing with some Americans, a majority of the country still trusts public health experts like Fauci over the president. A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that 65% of Americans trusted information about the pandemic coming from Fauci, as compared with 67% who distrust information coming from Trump. Approval for the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic has also reached an all-time low as cases have exploded, with the Quinnipiac poll finding 62% disapprove of his coronavirus response.