Chattanooga Times Free Press
AP-NORC poll: Americans critical of Trump’s handling of pandemic
WASHINGTON — Less than three weeks from Election Day, majorities of Americans are highly critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of both the coronavirus pandemic and his own illness, according to a new poll from The Associated Press- NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The survey also shows that few Americans have trust in the information the White House has released about Trump’s health. Initial accounts of the president’s condition were murky and contradictory, and the White House is still refusing to say when the president last tested negative for COVID-19 before his infection became public.
Trump’s illness and hospitalization has refocused the final stretch of the presidential campaign on the pandemic, which has killed more than 216,000 people in the United States this year. Democratic challenger Joe Biden has sought to make the election a referendum on the Republican president’s handling of the virus, arguing that Trump has mismanaged the pandemic and cost Americans lives.
The AP- NORC poll suggests many Americans agree with that sentiment, with 65% saying Trump has not taken the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. seriously enough. The poll, which was taken a week after Trump disclosed his own COVID- 19 diagnosis, also shows that 54% of Americans disapprove with how the White House handled the episode.
The Rev. Joseph Wiseman, a 49- year- old registered Republican and Biden supporter from Wichita, Kansas, is among them. Wiseman said he was turned off by the president’s “cavalier attitude” toward the pandemic and what he saw as Trump’s “disregard for the health and wellbeing” of people around him who were exposed to the virus at White House events, as well as when the president drove in a vehicle with Secret Service agents to greet supporters during his hospital stay.
Trump spent four days at a military hospital just outside Washington, where he was treated with an aggressive drug regimen. On Sunday, his doctor said he was no longer contagious, and he’s returned to the campaign trail this week, holding rallies in battleground states across the country.
The president was eager to return to campaigning in part to send a message to Americans that they should not allow the virus to consume their lives. It’s a message that has been well-received by some of the president’s supporters.
“I think that from the start to the finish that he came through quite rapidly and he’s back out there,” said Jim Gula, 71, a Republican and Trump supporter from Jacksonville, Florida. “And I think that’s a reflection on the overall people who have come down with a positive test.”
The pandemic upended Trump’s plans to spend 2020 running on a strong economic record, thrusting him instead into the role of a president governing through crisis. He’s repeatedly tried to downplay the impact of the virus, even after his own illness, and has opposed some of the more stringent safety measures recommended by his own administration.