Partisanship and Fakenews during Coronavirus

Melina Platas, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Melina Platas, assistant professor of political science at NYU Abu Dhabi, has provided analysis on US government polls that show how Republicans and Democrats trust of the US President impact their perception of COVID-19’s threat to public life.

The analysis shows Republicans were split on who to believe when it came to information regarding the novel coronavirus’ impact on the US. The Center for Disease Control, the national agency for health protection, was issuing staunch warnings on the virus’ effect on Americans. Whereas US President Donald Trump was dismissive of the seriousness of the novel coronavirus threat in the weeks leading up to the US declaring a public emergency saying it “was totally under control”.

“The fact that the president has been downplaying the public health threat, for example, comparing it favorably to the flu, which he tweeted about, or saying that the media is exaggerating the threat might explain why Republicans are less worried about coronavirus than Democrats,” Platas was quoted as saying by FivethirtyEight, an ABC News offshoot that focuses on opinion polls analysis.

Although President Trump has since rolled back on his initial dismissal of the virus’ threat in recent days, partisanship in the US remains high as the country scrambles to address projections showing that some 250,000 American’s might die because of COVID-19.

However Platas told Fivethirtyeight that as the threat hits home and the virus begins to effect the lives of Americans, public opinion on COVID from both political parties is likely to converge into a unified truth.

Applying her expertise to the current situation, Platas is now working on a project that looks at knowledge and behavior regarding COVID19 in developing countries, and specifically sub-Saharan Africa.