High support for Ebola quarantine

October 15, 2014, 7:05 PM GMT+0

Most Americans support a quarantine for people coming from countries badly affected by Ebola

In the days after the second person was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Americans continued to express concerns about the virus becoming an epidemic in the United States – seven in ten remain at least somewhat concerned about the possibility. And in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll most favored extreme measures to limit contact with anyone who had been in the three West Africa countries where Ebola is continuing to spread.

More than half would forbid those who have been in those countries from even entering the United States, which suggests that the measures now in place at U.S. airports to screen those who have arrive from those countries for fever may not be thought of as good enough. Nearly three-quarters of Americans would subject everyone coming from those countries to quarantine before they are allowed to enter the country.

Women are somewhat more likely than men to want to refuse entry to people from Western Africa. Just 16% of women would allow people from countries that have a major Ebola outbreak to enter the U.S., while 30% of men would permit it. There is also a political differences: 32% of Democrats would allow entry compared with only 11% of Republicans. Those following news about the virus are especially likely to want to take action. 82% of those who have been following news stories about Ebola very closely would quarantine travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks; two in three would completely exclude travelers from those countries.

About a third are closely following those news stories, but just 17% say they know a lot about the virus. Those who say they know a lot would also bar travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks.

Opinions about media coverage of the virus is divided, with as many saying media coverage makes things seem better than they are as saying the media make things sound worse.

But as the virus continues to be part of Americans’ consciousness, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the performance of government. More than half in this week’s poll say the government isn’t doing enough to contain the outbreak – a rise of six points in the last week, and more than 20 points since August, when the virus was confined to West Africa.

The concern is bi-partisan. This week, for the first time, a plurality of Democrats agree that the government isn’t doing enough. About six in ten independents and Republicans believe the government isn’t doing enough. 57% of women say the government isn’t doing enough; 66% of those 65 and older agree.

There has also been an increase in negative ratings of how Barack Obama has been handling the Ebola outbreaks. This week, more disapprove than approve. Last week, the country was divided. Back in August, when the virus seemed limited to West Africa, more approved of the President’s handling of the Ebola outbreak than disapproved.

One in five Democrats disapprove of the President’s handling of Ebola. So do one in four African-Americans, usually the President’s strongest supporters.

Full results can be found here

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.