Researchers have tracked US pandemic attitudes for a year, harvesting weekly policy insights
As the COVID-19 death toll in the United States surpasses 500,000 people, researchers are pressing ahead with a far-reaching project measuring U.S. attitudes and behavior during the pandemic. In an initiative based at Harvard Kennedy School, professors from across Harvard and three other universities have been tracking American viewpoints in all 50 states in surveys for nearly a year. Each week they captured people’s evolving views and actions on the pandemic, as well as on the swirl of polarizing political events from the Black Lives Matter protests to the fall election. HKS Professor Matthew Baum, one of the principal investigators, says surprising findings have included sustained bipartisan support for tough measures by governors to control the pandemic and that public trust in science on COVID-19 has remained extremely high. The COVID States Project is building a deep reservoir of data that will serve scholars for many years to come. The data includes responses from up to 25,000 people polled monthly in every state since last April. The findings have been shared with policymakers grappling with how and when to reopen schools and non-essential businesses, and how to get people vaccinated.