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Survey: Trust Still High for CDC, Doctors in Coronavirus Outbreak

More than three-quarters of Americans believe the CDC and doctors will help reduce their risk from coronavirus. (JHDT Productions/Adobe Stock)
More than three-quarters of Americans believe the CDC and doctors will help reduce their risk from coronavirus. (JHDT Productions/Adobe Stock)
March 6, 2020

EUGENE, Ore. -- Despite these politically divided times, Americans still are ready to listen to health officials during the coronavirus epidemic.

That's according to a February survey from the University of Oregon, which finds trust is high in doctors, and in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ellen Peters, director of the university's Center for Science Communication Research, says respondents' politics predicted their trust in politicians - but not health officials.

"Even among conservatives, President Trump was not the most trusted," says Peters. "It turns out that among conservatives and liberals alike, the most trusted were the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as people's doctors."

The survey says 80% of people who identified as "conservative" and 75% of "liberals" said they trusted the CDC to reduce the risk of the coronavirus outbreak. Similarly, 80% of conservatives and 77% of liberals have faith in their doctors.

In Oregon, there are three confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, according to authorities.

The survey also found people trust their own ability to reduce their personal risk. But Peters notes that folks still need accurate information they can act on.

"If they get these messages from trusted sources, that's likely to have more impact on them," says Peters. "They're going to be more likely to follow those recommendations of the proper techniques to be using -- to do things like wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, etc."

In the past week, the Trump administration has said it will tighten control over health officials' messaging on coronavirus. Peters says it isn't clear how that will affect trustworthiness, but it could slow news at a time when information needs to be released quickly.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR