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The Keckley Report

Public Opinion about the Coronavirus: A Temporary Disruption or Permanent Re-set?

By April 6, 2020March 1st, 2023One Comment

The compounding effect of the coronavirus and economic recession will have a profound impact on how American’s think and behave. 

In the past week, at least 30 national polls have reported on the public’s views about the coronavirus and its relationship to the economy. I reviewed most of these, including a few summarized in the Fact File below. Here’s what I found:

A substantial majority of the public believes that:

  • The coronavirus poses a serious health personal threat and the economic downturn is a direct result of its impact on jobs and businesses.

  • Public health officials and health providers are better sources of information about the coronavirus than elected officials.

  • Hospitals are capable of handling the virus but they’re less confident nursing homes are adequately prepared.

But the polls also reveal some complicating issues:

  • Awareness about the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus, testing and appropriate interventions is relatively low.

  • Those who live in rural settings are significantly more fearful about their personal risks in dealing with the virus compared to those in suburban and urban areas.

  • Views about the federal government’s response to the coronavirus vary by party affiliation: Republicans believe the Trump administration has performed well; Democrats disagree. Partisan filters impact how consumers get their information about the coronavirus.


Last week, the Department of Labor announced 6.6 million job losses for the week—the single biggest job loss week on record. Many anticipate an unemployment rate of 15-20% is likely—higher than the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.

Also last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its long-term forecast predicting federal deficits before the CARES Act is included will increase $4.8 trillion between 2021-2025. And, per Moody’s Analytics, 29% of our economy is idle as 96% of our population is in lockdown mode indefinitely.

And today, global deaths from the coronavirus will reach 70,000 including 10,000 in the U.S.

I believe the public’s expectations about our healthcare system will fundamentally change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Awareness about emergency preparedness and the role of public health will be higher. Appreciation for frontline nurses, doctors and hospitals will be greater. Technologies that enable connectivity and virtual care will be expected. Clinical research priorities will change, and processes will be streamlined. Terms like safety, access, quality and affordability will be scrutinized more closely. And healthcare reform will be front and center in the November Presidential Campaigns.

The polls show widespread fear about the coronavirus. It’s a unique opportunity for the healthcare industry to step up.

This is not a temporary shift in public opinion; it’s a significant change that will permanently impact how consumerism in healthcare is addressed.

P.S. For minute-by-minute updates on the coronavirus pandemic, go to Coronavirus Resources at


Morning Consult: Economic Fear Increasing

From its weekly tracking survey of 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of 2%:

  • Concern over the virus’s spread has increased 18% since January, but has remained largely stable over the past week. Differences among partisan cohorts are not statistically significant: 95% of Democrats, 92% of Republicans and 89% of Independents are concerned about the coronavirus spread

  • 89% are concerned about the impact of the virus on the economy– up 37% among the general public since January.

“Tracking Public Opinion on the Coronavirus” Morning Consult April 2, 2020

Pew Research Center: Coronavirus Impact Hitting Closer to Home

Highlights of the new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel:

  • 33% say they or someone in their household has lost their job or suffered a pay cut or reduction in work hours because of the coronavirus.

  • 66% including majorities in all major demographic and partisan groups – say COVID-19 is a “significant crisis” vs. 47% two weeks ago.

  • 65% say the coronavirus outbreak will cause a recession or depression in the U.S. and 17% anticipate a depression.

  • 49% think it will adversely impact their personal finances and 36% think the coronavirus poses a threat to their own health.

  • 71%) say that to address the coronavirus, it is necessary to require most businesses other than grocery stores or pharmacies to close (higher among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents at 81% than Republicans and GOP leaders at 61%)

  • 79%) say federal public health officials are doing an excellent or good job in handling the pandemic including 84% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats. View about the performance of elected state and local elected officials are less positive and ratings for President Trump’s performance break along party lines: an overwhelming majority of Republicans (83%) express positive views, compared with just 18% of Democrats.

“Worries About Coronavirus Surge, as Most Americans Expect a Recession – or Worse” Pew Research Center March 26, 2020

Revive Health Poll: Consumers want More Information about the Coronavirus; Trust is Highest for Health Experts compared to Elected Officials, Employers

Using Pollfish to survey 700 U.S. adults 25-plus March 30, Revive Health, a Nashville-based marketing communications consultancy found:

  • Local health experts (81%), national health experts (79%) and local news sources (78%) are the most trusted source for coronavirus-related information; employers (47%), national (54%) and local elected officials (59%) were the least trusted. Notably, the survey showed a statistically significant drop for local health experts and employers since the March 18 poll.

  • Most consumers 70% say they are unaware of the procedures and locations where they might be tested for the coronavirus; most would go to a primary care clinician’s office (44%) or testing facility (13%).

“Consumer Survey Update: COVID-19” Revive Health; March 30, 2020

Bain/Dynata Poll: COVID-19 Fear Highest in Rural Communities

The latest Bain/Dynata survey of US consumers, conducted March 30 through April 1, found that 41% of rural respondents have experienced either a temporary or permanent layoff from their jobs, much higher than urban (26%) and suburban (18%) residents.

Those living in rural areas have also grown increasingly worried about the health effects of Covid-19: while only 7% of rural residents were highly concerned at the beginning of March, 43% were highly concerned as of April 1, vs. 42% for urban respondents and 35% for suburbanites.

“Rural America Now Feeling the Hit from Covid-19” Bain and Company April 3, 2020

IPSOS Global Poll: Concern for Vulnerable Higher than Concern for Personal Health

Ipsos survey conducted March 26th to 30th, 2020 on the Global Advisor online platform among 28,000 adults aged 18-74 in Canada and the United States and 16-74 in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam and the United Kingdom:

  • 32% of US adults say they are anxious about the impact of the coronavirus on their own health—significantly below views in Brazil, Russia and Vietnam but higher anxiety levels in China, Canada and Mexico.

  • In 13 of the 15 countries, majorities cited concern for those who are weak and vulnerable at the top of a list of 10 options when asked what best describes how they are feeling today. People in Brazil (70%), Spain and the United Kingdom (66%), Mexico (61%) and Canada, France and Italy (60%) are mostly likely to express concern for others, while those in Japan (23%) and China (30%) are least concerned.

  • 70% in the U.S. think the virus will bring them closer to their family.

“More concerned for those vulnerable to COVID-19 than for their own health, poll shows” Ipsos April 1, 2020;

Pew Research Center: Public Confidence in Hospital for Coronavirus Stable

According to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted March 24-30:

  • 71% say they are very or somewhat confident that hospitals and medical centers in their area can handle the needs of seriously ill people during the outbreak.

  • 54% say they are very or somewhat confident that nursing homes in their area can handle the needs of seriously ill people during the outbreak.

 “Most Americans are confident hospitals can handle the needs of the seriously ill during COVID-19 outbreak” Pew Research Center March 26, 2020


Strata Decision Technology: Hospital losses $1200 to $2800 per Covid-19 patient

Strata used a simulation model using patient data from 32 US health systems representing 127 hospitals with 1.2 million combined annual discharges (2019) and $45 billion in annual operational expenses. They found:

  • without raising the reimbursement premium on COVID-19 patient cases, the worst-case scenario will result in 97% of health systems losing an average of $2,800 per case, with many losing between $8,000 and $10,000 per case.

  • average loss will be $1,200 per case and up to $6,000 to $8,000 per case for some hospital systems, depending on their payer mix.

 “REPORT: Hospitals face massive losses on COVID-19 cases even with proposed increase in federal reimbursement” Strata Decision Technology

KFF: 93 million At Risk of Coronavirus Infection

Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed data from the CDC’s 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System:

  • 37.6% ages 18 and older in the U.S. (92.6 million people) have a higher risk of developing serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus, due to their older age (65 and older) or health condition.

  • The share of adults ages 18 and older who have a higher risk of developing a more serious illness varies across the country, ranging from 49.3% (West Virginia) to 30% (Utah).

  • In some of the states hardest hit by COVID-19 thus far, the share of adults at high risk of serious illness due to infection is relatively high: Michigan (41.2%), New York (36.9 %), New Jersey (34.6%), and California (33.3%).

  • 5.1 million adults who are at higher risk of getting a serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus are uninsured.

Koma et al “How Many Adults Are at Risk of Serious Illness If Infected with Coronavirus? Updated Data”

Economic Analysis: The Value of Intervention to the Economy

Economists used an SIR model (susceptible, infected, and recovered) to simulate how the disease moves through a population. They estimate that even a yearlong lockdown makes economic sense, to allow time for a vaccine to be developed. The pause would shrink the economy by approximately 22% ($4.2 trillion). By comparison, the model shows that without containment measures, the economy would contract by about 7% over that year—but as many as 500,000 additional lives would be lost, which translates into a loss of roughly $6.1 trillion.

Other costs, like a spike in suicides likely in recessions, were not included in the simulation. Scientists found an additional 4750 suicides in the United States over 3 years attributable to the Great Recession of 2008.

Cornwall Can you put a price on COVID-19 options? Experts weigh lives versus economics Science Mar. 31, 2020

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