On Thursday, a new survey was released revealing that the American people’s trust in so-called “experts” and elected officials has decreased significantly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Yahoo News, the survey by Pew Research Center revealed that approval ratings for public health officials, state and local officials, and Joe Biden all ended up between 43 percent and 54 percent, which is lower than in the earliest days of the coronavirus.
Responses were divided along party lines; while 52 percent of overall respondents said that they believed public health officials had done a satisfactory job during the pandemic, only 29 percent of Republicans agreed with this sentiment, while 72 percent of Democrats said the same. Democrats were also much more likely to say that they believe the American healthcare system is prepared for a future public health emergency, at 67 percent, while just 51 percent of Republicans say the same.
Some say that such a decline in trust in the system was already happening prior to the pandemic, with the virus only straining these tensions.
“I think that mistrust in government and politicians, and even to a certain extent science, started well before the pandemic,” said Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Stanford University. “And it just was exacerbated.”
Robert Wachter, a professor in the medicine department at the University of California, San Francisco said that such a drop in public trust is the result of growing pandemic fatigue, as well as most Americans now accepting that COVID is becoming a part of everyday life, thus making them more likely to ignore further lockdown recommendations and other restrictions by experts.
“I think people’s thinking is very much influenced by the fact that the chances you’re going to die of COVID have gone down substantially on a per-case basis,” Wachter added.
On the subject of vaccines, 55 percent of overall respondents said that they believed the vaccines had been somewhat or very effective at slowing the spread of the disease. Roughly half felt the same about indoor mask mandates, while only 34 percent said that they believed in the effectiveness of the practice of maintaining six feet of distance between people on a regular basis.