Is there a pandemic news fatigue? The percentage of Americans following news about the corona pandemic very closely has slipped to its lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic. Overall, 31% of adults say they are following news about the pandemic very closely, down from 37% in late November, according to a survey by the Pew Research Centre. The survey comprised 12 045 adults and was made March 8-14.
In late March a year ago, during the early stages of the outbreak, 57% were following news about the coronavirus very closely – a percentage that marked the high point in public attention.
One finding consistent with late 2020 surveys is that Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are much more likely to follow news of the outbreak very closely than Republicans and Republican leaners. In the new survey, 40% of Democrats are paying that much attention to news of the outbreak, compared with 23% of Republicans. That party divide did not exist early in the pandemic but emerged in the summer and held throughout the fall and winter of 2020.
Pew also asked if people think the pandemic is getting the correct attention in the media. When asked if the coronavirus outbreak has been made into a bigger deal or smaller deal than it really is, or has been approached about right, 43% now say it has been handled about right. 34% say it has been made into a bigger deal, and 23% say it has been made into a smaller deal.
In November, 47% of Democrats were paying very close attention, compared with 28% of Republicans. In March 2020, about half of each party (53% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans) were following pandemic news very closely.
Overall, in the new survey, 42% of all Americans say the US has done as much as it could to control the pandemic, while 56% say it has not. Among Republicans, 70% say the nation has done as much as it could while 29% say the US has fallen short. Those numbers are reversed for Democrats, with 19% saying the US controlled the outbreak as much as it could and 79% saying it has not.