In National Survey, Americans Say Chinese People Are Blameless for Coronavirus Spread, but Their Government May Owe Us
Most Americans are less worried about their personal health, BU researchers found, than they are about nationwide issues like the economy
Most Americans say the people of China are not to blame for the spread of COVID-19, but many believe China’s government owes reparations to those harmed by the virus, according to a new national survey by Boston University researchers.
Researchers collected data from 2,049 respondents interviewed between April 24, 2020, and May 7, 2020, in a nationally representative sample based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, and education.
By a two-to-one margin, Americans hold the Chinese people blameless for the pandemic (49 percent vs. 22 percent), according to the survey, which was directed by James Katz, Feld Professor of Emerging Media at the College of Communication. But the same survey found more than a third of Americans believe China could have prevented the spread of the virus and owes payment reparations to those harmed (33 percent vs. 30 percent).
More respondents than not (45 percent vs. 33 percent) say the term “Chinese virus” is racist, but the term “Wuhan virus” is acceptable (37 percent vs. 33 percent), because “that is where it originated.”
The survey also suggests continuing broad support for measures urged by many governors, mayors, and medical experts. Three in four Americans say they’re willing to avoid social gatherings, rethink travel, and wear face masks to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and two-thirds say they’re very willing, willing, or somewhat willing to support “mandatory blood tests to stop virus spreaders” (67 percent vs. 33 percent). However, 6 in 10 say they are unwilling to “report neighbors who violate stay-at-home orders” (59 percent vs. 41 percent).
“Except for some steps, such as raising taxes, the public seems willing to support prolonged or even renewed sacrifices to fight the COVID-19 virus,” says Katz.
The survey also suggested that white respondents are less willing than African American, Latinx, and Asian American respondents to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus. For example, 54 percent of white respondents say they are willing to “stay inside except for emergencies,” in contrast to at least 70 percent of all other ethnic groups.
A similar gap between genders exists, the survey suggested, with men less supportive than women of preventive measures.