Washington D.C. , June 2: Despite the coronavirus ripping through US economy and upending everything- from junk bonds to prices for orange juice- a majority of Americans are still in favour of controlling the pandemic outbreak first, rather than restarting economy, a survey found.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans said that the coronavirus outbreak has exacted a severe economic toll on their communities, but a majority of them still opined that controlling the virus spread is more important than trying to restart the economy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The nationwide survey found that despite the shared disruption of their daily lives since stay-at-home orders began, partisans differ sharply on how the country should move forward.
In the starkest split, 57 per cent of Americans overall and 81 per cent of Democrats say trying to control the spread of the coronavirus is most important right now, even if it hurts the economy. A far smaller 27 per cent of Republicans agree, while 66 per cent of them say restarting the economy is more important, even if it hurts efforts to control the virus.
The poll also found gender and racial gaps on this issue. Women, by more than 2 to 1, said controlling the spread of the virus should be the higher priority, while men are evenly split. Additionally, black Americans, who have suffered disproportionately from the virus, overwhelmingly favour controlling its spread, with about 3 in 4 citing this as their priority.
Americans are nearly as divided along partisan lines when asked whether they are willing to go to stores, restaurants and other public places "the way you did before the coronavirus outbreak." Two-thirds of Republicans say they are willing to resume such activities, compared with 4 in 10 independents and fewer than 2 in 10 Democrats. Overall, 58 per cent of Americans say it is "too early" to go to stores, restaurants and other public places the way they did before.
Meanwhile, despite declines in the rate of new infections in some parts of the country, personal fears persist, with 63 per cent of Americans overall continuing to worry that they or a family member will catch the coronavirus. That is not far below the 69 per cent who two months ago said they were worried.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted between May 25 to 28 over phone among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, after most states had begun to ease stay-at-home orders and partially lift restrictions on public gatherings and businesses, allowing many retail stores and restaurants to reopen, but usually at a limited capacity and with social distancing rules in place.
Governors have been the decision-makers on reopening, as states charted their own paths in deciding how and when to ease restrictions that they put in place this spring.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans approve of the way their governors have handled the outbreak, including 69 per cent of those with a Republican governor and 63 per cent in states led by a Democrat.
A much smaller 46 per cent approve of Donald Trump's handling of the outbreak, as reported on Sunday, while 51 per cent give the President's administration negative marks for handling efforts to make a coronavirus test universally available.
In late March, the US Congress had passed and Trump signed a USD 2.2 trillion aid package that included loans to small businesses, checks of USD 1,200 to most individual taxpayers and additional assistance to people who had lost their jobs.
The aid package in late March provided an extra USD600 per week to people who lost their jobs during the outbreak, a grant that is scheduled to expire at the end of July. In addition to this, House Democrats also passed a bill continuing the extra payments through early 2021.
At least 40 million Americans have applied for unemployment since March, but as states reopen, unemployment benefits have become a flashpoint. Congressional Democrats and Republicans, along with the White House, remain divided as they debate additional stimulus legislation.
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