COVID-19 has lessons for Kansas in handling crises. Citizens and policymakers should use this moment to reflect on how we can protect public health now, and prepare for the next crisis to threaten Kansas.
First, let’s talk social trust. In surveys, Americans report little trust in government. Where diseases are concerned, Hollywood has given us the disaster movie narrative wherein the government bungles containment, leading to tyrannical doomsday measures. It’s little wonder that social media is full of conspiracies implicating government and corporations for “causing” the COVID-19 crisis.
Further, trust on coronavirus is increasingly partisan. In recent national polling, over 60 percent of Republicans — but just 30 percent of Democrats — call the COVID-19 threat “exaggerated.” Republicans trust President Trump to handle coronavirus; Democrats don’t. Republicans express significant skepticism about the honesty of public health experts on coronavirus; Democrats don’t.
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