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Americans Recognize We’re Doing a Bad Job at Fighting Coronavirus

The Pew Research Center asked residents of fourteen countries how well their countries are combatting the coroanvirus. Majorities in all but two countries said they’re doing a good job:

Pew Research Center, good job on coronavirus by country, August 2020
Pew Research Center, good job on coronavirus by country, August 2020.

How well does that self-assessment correspond with coronavirus case rates?

Country Total Cases Total Cases per 100K pop Cases in last 7 days Cases in last 7 days per 100K pop % saying “good job, us!”
Australia 25,446 102 1,039 4 94
Belgium 83,030 727 2,852 25 61
Canada 126,848 342 2,975 8 88
Denmark 17,052 294 599 10 95
France 259,698 388 29,884 45 59
Germany 239,507 289 10,886 13 88
Italy 263,949 437 7,831 13 55
Japan 66,269 52 5,852 5 74
Netherlands 70,980 412 4,137 24 87
South Korea 19,077 37 2,407 5 86
Spain 429,507 919 51,601 110 54
Sweden 83,898 824 71
U.K. 330,368 497 8,088 12 46
United States 5,883,686 1,798 296,285 91 47

Globally, since the beginning of the pandemic, 24.4 million humans, 313 people per 100,000, have tested positive for coronavirus. The rate in the U.S. has been 5.7 times the global rate, with 5.88 million Americans making up nearly 25% of the world’s positive cases, even though we make up only 4% of the world’s population.

Over the past week, the median rate of new cases worldwide (in countries for which the New York Times has data available) has been 13.5 people per 100,000. That’s close to the median rate—13— for the countries in Pew’s survey of national perceptions of pandemic response effectiveness. Italy, an early pandemic hotspot, is at that median rate of 13 cases over the past week per 100K population. Italy’s swift lockdown and information transparency, along with ongoing local quarantines, travel restrictions, and widespread mask-wearing, appears to have brought the pandemic under control.

America’s current weekly case rate of 91 per 100K is the 18th-highest of 158 countries reporting and second-highest of the countries in Pew’s survey.

So in this case, yes, Americans seem to have a relatively fair sense that they aren’t doing a great job fighting the global pandemic.

Well, most Americans. Partisanship is still clouding perceptions, not just here but around the world:

In two countries – the United Kingdom and the United States – people are divided in their beliefs when it comes to rating their government’s performance responding to the coronavirus. These two nations also have high levels of political polarization on views of the government’s handling of this crisis. In the U.S., 76% of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party say the government has done a good job, while just a quarter of Democrats and Democratic leaners agree, a 51 percentage point difference. A majority of right-leaning Britons (55%) give a positive rating to their country’s handling of the pandemic, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, but just 26% on the left hold the same opinion.

People in Spain, which is currently led by the left-leaning Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, are also split ideologically on assessing their government’s response to COVID-19, but in the opposite direction: 73% on the left are pleased with how their country has managed the outbreak while 40% on right are not, a 33-point difference. Those on the left are also more positive on their country’s response to the outbreak than those on the right by double digits in Italy (18 points more positive), Sweden (17 points) and South Korea (15 points) [Kat Devlin and Aidan Connaughton, “Most Approve of National Response to Covid-19 in 14 Advanced Countries,” Pew Research Center, 2020.08.27].

Set your party labels aside and look at the numbers. If your country has a high rate of infection, your country isn’t doing a good job. The effectiveness of closing the bars, wearing masks, staying home, expanding testing, and tracing contacts does not correlate with party affiliation.

(By the way, while the U.S. case rate per 100K over the past week is 91, South Dakota’s is 170. the only places in the U.S. with higher current rates are Alabama, Mississippi, the U.S. Virgin Islands, North Dakota, Iowa, and Guam.)


  1. mike from iowa 2020-08-28 08:14

    drumpf body count starts the morning at 183, 927 bodies. Where will the day take us?

  2. bearcreekbat 2020-08-28 09:48

    It seems odd that PEW omitted countries from the US neighbor, Central America, as well as countries from South America from their surveys. This seems a bit inconsistent with what “Americans Recognize.” What’s up with that?

  3. leslie 2020-08-28 10:06

    Tuesday, August 25

    Wednesday, August 26

    SD corrects its website reporting-accurately? Nationally trump has recently restricted data collection from CDC/WHO, and perhaps changed collection and restriction of such public health data yet again. Again.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-08-28 13:40

    from Cedar Rabbits Gazette…. More than three quarters of coronavirus tests in Iowa over a 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. Friday came back positive, according to public health data analyzed by The Gazette.

    The jump in positivity rate to a record level — now at 79.43 percent — comes as Iowa Department of Public Health begins including antigen tests in the results. IDPH said adding antigen tests has a “minimal” impact on the positivity rate, though.

    It’s the first time the state has had more positive tests than negative tests. Overall, the state had 2,579 new cases out of 3,247 total tests. Another 11 people died, pushing the death toll to 1,091 Iowans.

    The spike in new cases breaks the record of 1,477 cases set a day ago.

  5. mike from iowa 2020-08-28 13:44

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    Up over 1400 already today, natiionwide.

  6. jerry 2020-08-28 14:02

    I guess that the trump virus did not quit in July as promised by the loons in charge. Sunlight, don’tcha know, will kill that trump virus…according to the trump virus hisownself.

  7. mike from iowa 2020-08-28 20:32

    final body count numbers for today come in close to 2000 dead ones.

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

  8. leslie 2020-08-28 23:13

    I did see the white house Hatch Act criminal GOP undertaking, on tonight’s BBC, including Noem’s false characterization (1st aired at Mt Rushmore) for the world to see. The excess was nauseating.

    Btw positives in SD were 329 today. JFC. No wonder Noem is pushing personal responsibility. Her gross negligence to 800,000 population is gross, again.

  9. Debbo 2020-08-29 02:14

    I wonder how large a role Russian online propaganda in the UK and USA is playing in our splits?

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