As governors across the U.S. loosen restrictions and look to reopen their economies, a majority of Americans think it’s mainly the federal government’s responsibility to ensure there’s adequate coronavirus testing, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on Tuesday.
The majority, 61 percent of U.S. adults, say it’s primarily the federal government’s responsibility, compared with 37 percent who say the responsibility mainly falls on state governments to make sure there are enough tests to safely lift restrictions.
These numbers shift when divided among Democrats and Republicans, with 78 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents placing the primary responsibility on the federal government. Nearly 30 percent of these respondents said the federal government is entirely responsible for making sure there is adequate testing.
A smaller majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 57 percent, say this responsibility primarily falls on state governments.
The availability and coordination of nationwide testing has been a point of controversy between state leaders and the Trump administration. During a news briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump and federal health officials revealed a plan to help states test at least 2 percent of their populations for coronavirus in May.
The president boasted that the United States has “prevailed on testing” and said that “if people want to get tested they get tested” — despite public health experts’ warnings that millions more tests per week are needed for a safe reopening of the United States.
And on Tuesday, Health and Human Services’ testing czar Brett Giroir predicted that the U.S. would have the capacity to test up to 50 million people a month by September — roughly four times the 12.9-million test goal announced by the administration on Monday.
The Pew poll also found a partisan divide in how U.S. adults view state and local governments’ handling of the outbreak, as well as Trump’s response to the pandemic.
Republicans give lower ratings to both state and local government officials than they did in March, with around 60 percent of these U.S. adults rating the responses as “excellent or good.” Democrats were at about 65 percent for both state and local officials’ handling of the outbreak.
In late March, Republicans rated elected state officials at 72 percent and elected local officials at 73 percent. Democrats‘ ratings of state and local officials didn’t see as much of a change in May, with a 69 percent rating for state officials and a 66 percent rating for local officials in March.
The divide is much larger when assessing Trump’s response to the pandemic, with 77 percent of Republicans rating the president’s response as “excellent or good.” Only 11 percent of Democrats rate Trump’s handling of the outbreak as “excellent or good.” Republican and Democratic voters’ ratings of the president have dropped since March, with 83 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats saying Trump was doing an “excellent or good job“ in the last survey.
The data was drawn from a panel of 10,957 randomly selected U.S. adults and was conducted via self-administered web surveys from April 29 to May 5. Respondents without internet access were provided with tablets and wireless internet connection. The margin of sampling error is 1.4 percentage points.