Less than half of voters say the U.S. is prepared for coronavirus, new survey finds

Image: coronavirus
An electron microscope image showing the novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. Copyright NIAID-RML
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — After Super Tuesday's results and before we start looking ahead to next week's Democratic primaries, it's time to acknowledge the political — and health — anvil that's hanging over our heads: the coronavirus, and the disrupting force it could be.

According to a new online poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the Republican half of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 92 percent of registered voters have read, heard or seen news about the spread of the coronavirus (compared with 98 percent who said the same about Ebola in the 2014 NBC/WSJ poll).

Sixty-one percent are personally concerned about the coronavirus, including 24 percent who are very concerned.

Fifty-nine percent say they have talked with family and friends about how the coronavirus could impact them.

Forty-two percent have taken precautions to limit their exposure.

And only 49 percent of voters say the United States is prepared for an outbreak (compared with 57 percent who said the same about Ebola in 2014).

It's that final figure — less than half believing the United States is prepared — that's maybe the most alarming of all.

The misinformer-in-chief

It also doesn't help when the president of the United States is giving the American public misinformation like he did last night with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Hannity: "We have a report today: The global death rate as 3.4 percent and a report that the Olympics could be delayed. Your reaction to that?"

Trump: "Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild and they will get better very rapidly."

Trump added in the interview, "So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work — but they get better and then."

We're no doctors, but we'll repeat the advice from doctors and health professionals: If you're not feeling well and believe you may have symptoms, don't go to work.

Dueling Biden versus Sanders interviews

Get ready for three more months of this.

At least.

"There's an article — I don't know if you saw it today, The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street starts opening up its wallet for Joe Biden. He has more than 60 billionaires contributing to his campaign," Bernie Sanders told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow yesterday.

Joe Biden's response from his interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie: "It's ridiculous. Bernie you got beaten by overwhelming support I have from the African American community, Bernie. You got beaten because of suburban women Bernie. You got beaten because of the middle class, hard-working folks out there Bernie. You've raised a lot more money than I have, Bernie."

More Sanders to Rachel Maddow yesterday: "We're going to the Midwest, Michigan. Michigan was decimated by terrible, terrible trade deals, NAFTA, PNTR with China, which cost our country some 4 million good paying jobs. I walked the picket lines against NAFTA. I went to Mexico to see what NAFTA would do. Joe voted for those terrible agreements."

More Biden to Guthrie: "Let's go to Michigan, Bernie. Let's see if that's true. I'm the guy that helped bail out the automobile industry. What'd you do old buddy? Come on. This idea of that my record is a problem, this is a guy that voted against the Brady bill five times for background checks on people. ... I welcome the competition, Bernie. Let's talk about your votes, let's talk about my votes. Let's see what the American people say."


Data Download: The number of the day is … 527 to 475

527 to 475.

That's the number of delegates currently allocated to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, respectively, according to the NBC News Decision Desk.

That includes only 264 of California's 415 delegates. The remainder have yet to be allocated as the vote continues to be counted.

Overall, Elizabeth Warren has 48 delegates, Pete Buttigieg has 26, Mike Bloomberg has 24, Amy Klobuchar has 7 and Tulsi Gabbard has 1.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Bullock for Senate after all?

Montana Gov. (and former presidential candidate) Steve Bullock is "pretty serious" about filing to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Montana, NBC's Vaughn Hillyard reports, citing a personal familiar with Bullock's thinking.


Hillyard's reporting confirms the scoop from the New York Times' Jonathan Martin: "Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana is poised to reverse himself and run for the Senate, according to three Democratic officials, a decision that would hand the party a coveted recruit who could help reclaim a majority in the chamber."

We've got to ask: Does the Bullock-for-Senate talk happen if Sanders — and not Biden — had the delegate lead?

On the campaign trail today

Bernie Sanders holds a rally in Phoenix ... Vice President Mike Pence rallies in St. Paul, Minn., ... And President Trump holds a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pa. at 6:30 pm ET.

Dispatches from NBC's campaign embeds

NBC's Marianna Sotomayor covers Joe Biden's remarks from yesterday: "This idea that we didn't have a movement, look at the results," he said. "It is a movement. And we need that movement to beat Donald Trump and to build a future we all know is possible." He added that he's "especially proud our campaign has generated so much enthusiasm, driving up voter turnout all across the nation."

The Lid: Assumption junction

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how Super Tuesday upended some of our assumptions about presidential elections.


ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Dave Wasserman writes for NBCNews.com about how Biden's chances of getting the nomination are even bigger than they seem.

Elizabeth Warren is looking at what will come next for her campaign after disappointing losses on Tuesday.

We're going to be hearing a lot of reminders about 2016 in the Biden-Sanders war.

Here's what's going on with the back-and-forth between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Supreme Court heard a major abortion rights case yesterday.


Trump Agenda: Be prepared (or not)

The Washington Post writes that the U.S. health system is showing how unprepared it is for a pandemic.

The president addressed Hispanic business leaders — and skipped a lot of his usual immigration rhetoric.

2020: Desperately seeking Sanders' turnout

Bernie Sanders keeps promising that he can fuel voter turnout among his key constituencies.Where is it?

The New York Times looks at Biden's decisive win in Virginia.

Here's how Sanders is hoping to mount a comeback.


Could Biden's coalition beat Trump in November?

Share this articleComments