By Miguel Gutierrez and Sarah SchulmanPosted August 16, 2018 05:30:24Newscasters who are at the center of a debate about the health and safety of the nation’s media and public are now being called out for their apparent lack of caution in their coverage following the release of a study showing that some local and state officials have already begun taking Zika-related measures.
In the new CBS News/New York Times poll, only 27% of people surveyed believe that local officials are taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus, while 46% say they are not taking any steps.
In contrast, 70% of those surveyed said they were “not sure” or “don’t know” what actions the public should take.
The poll was conducted Aug. 15-18 among 1,058 adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
The CBS News poll found that while the public overall is more likely to believe local officials have taken steps to prevent Zika spread, the public is also more likely than not to believe that a local health official has taken steps in the past.
A majority (52%) of those polled said they believe local authorities are taking a “serious” or even “very serious” amount of action in the wake of the outbreak.
Only 21% said they are taking “no action at all.”
The New York Times/CBS poll also found that there is a substantial divide between those who believe local health officials have acted well and those who say local officials should take a more cautious approach.
Sixty-three percent of respondents who believe health officials should have taken more precautions said they believed that local health authorities are “doing a very good job” or that they have “done a good job.”
By contrast, just 30% of respondents surveyed who believe the local health authority is “doing well” believe local leaders have taken “a serious or very serious” number of steps.
Among those who do not believe local government officials are doing a good enough job, 43% say local authorities should take more steps, while 34% said local authorities have done a “poor” or not enough.
In contrast, only 11% of the public say local health and public health officials are “tough” on Zika and 15% said “they are doing everything they can.”
When asked if they believe that the CDC, local officials, and the press have acted “in the best interest of the country,” 47% of adults say yes, while 47% say no.
Only 16% of voters said local and public officials “do a good or great job.”
“The media is the most important institution in the country and it’s not working,” said Michael Collins, director of the University of Arizona Center for Media and Public Affairs.
“The media can’t do its job if they’re not in the loop.”
The poll found similar partisan divides.
Republicans and Democrats have sharply differing views on the health consequences of the epidemic, with Republicans more than twice as likely to say that local and local officials in their communities have taken a “very seriously” amount or a “major” amount to reduce mosquito bites.
Republicans also are more likely (45%) than Democrats to say local and federal officials are in a position to “totally” or fully prevent the spread and spread of Zika.