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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Six months into this pandemic, Americans still misperceive their risk of death from COVID-19. That is one of the conclusions from an extensive survey done by Franklin Templeton in conjunction with Gallup. They also found that the misperception is greater for people who identify as Democrats and also for people who rely more on social media for their information.

Americans generally underestimate the impact of the coronavirus on a person aged 55 or older. They believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half (57.5%) of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.

For the other age cohorts, they tend to overestimate the likelihood of a person dying. They assume that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30 percent of the total deaths, while the actual figure is 2.7 percent. And they estimate the percentage of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger to be about 8 percent, when the actual figure is 0.2 percent.

The report also explains that this “misperception translates into a degree of fear for one’s health that for most people vastly exceeds the actual risk.” For example, more than a majority (59.1%) of young people (18-24) worry about the serious health effects from the coronavirus, yet their percentage of total deaths is only 0.1 percent.

Partisanship and social media also have an influence. “Those who identify as Democrats tend to mistakenly overstate the risk of death from COVID-19 for younger people much more than Republicans.” Also, the survey found that people “who get their information predominately from social media have the most erroneous and distorted perception of risk.”

This survey not only illustrates the mistaken ideas many Americans have about the coronavirus, but also highlights how the media and politicized statements by candidates skew our view of the pandemic.viewpoints new web version

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