Public understanding of needed preventative measures and rejection of bogus ones is important because SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious and potentially lethal. This article discusses a survey in early March 2020 to ascertain where and whether US residents were receiving accurate information from news sources.
A US national probability-based survey during the early days of the SARS-CoV-2 spread in the US showed that, above and beyond respondents’ political party, mainstream broadcast media use (e.g., NBC News) correlated with accurate information about the disease's lethality, and mainstream print media use (e.g., the New York Times) correlated with accurate beliefs about protection from infection. In addition, conservative media use (e.g., Fox News) correlated with conspiracy theories including believing that some in the CDC were exaggerating the seriousness of the virus to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump.
Five recommendations are made to improve public understanding of SARS-CoV-2.