Americans Aren’t Panicking Over Ebola
Notwithstanding the incessant news coverage, politicians being politicians, and Internet rumor mongering that I wrote about yesterday, it doesn’t appear that Americans are overly concerned about Ebola at the moment:
A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that just 11 percent of Americans are “very worried” about the Ebola virus infecting them or someone they know. An additional 21 percent are “somewhat” concerned. That leaves 67 percent who are either not at all concerned or “not too” concerned.
The last time a contagious disease threatened to spread in the United States was Avian influenza — a.k.a. bird flu — in 2005. A Fox News poll in October 2005 found that 30 percent were “very” concerned about its spread and 33 percent were somewhat concerned — a total of 63 percent. (This question, though, did not ask whether people were concerned abouttheir families being infected — perhaps a higher bar.)
Similarly, a March 2006 poll from ABC News showed 66 percent of people were “concerned” about bird flu, including 26 percent who were “very concerned.”
So it would seem there is considerably less concern about Ebola at this point.
Americans also say, 57 percent to 41 percent, that they have at least a “fair amount” of confidence in the federal government’s ability to deal with the issue.
That’s actually more faith than they had in the government’s ability to deal with bird flu. Back then, 48 percent had faith, while 49 percent had little or none, according to Pew polling.
So it would seem that, for the moment at least, the American people are not buying into the panic and fear mongering. That doesn’t mean the media will stop trying to create it, of course.