Americans continue to see many international issues – including terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons and cyberattacks – as major threats to the well-being of the nation. But as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe, the greatest threat named by Americans in a March 3-29 Pew Research Center survey is the spread of infectious diseases.
Nearly all U.S. adults (98%) say this is at least a minor threat, with roughly eight-in-ten (79%) naming outbreaks of disease as a major threat to the country. This is 27 percentage points higher than the level of concern about infectious disease in the midst of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak in 2014.
But infectious disease is not the only issue where Americans see a growing threat. Concerns about China and the condition of the global economy have also been on the rise. The survey, conducted at a time of surging COVID-19 cases in the United States, found that worries about both the threat of infectious diseases and the condition of the global economy rose after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13.