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COVID-19 Risk Perception Among U.S. Adults: Changes from February to May 2020

By Amyn A Malik, SarahAnn M. McFadden, Jad A Elharake, Obianuju Genevieve Aguolu, Mehr Shafiq, Saad B Omer

Posted 23 Aug 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.20.20178822

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to detrimentally impact the United States. Using a survey, we collected demographic and COVID-19 risk perception, behavior, knowledge, and attitude data from 672 adults across the U.S. in May 2020. These variables were compared with the results from a survey in February 2020. Participants who were older (55+ years; M = 6.3, SD = 2.0), identified as Native American/Alaska Native (M = 6.8, SD = 1.0) or Asian (M = 6.0, SD = 2.0), and those who had contracted (M = 6.8, SD = 2.0) or knew someone who had contracted COVID-19 (M = 6.2, SD = 1.7) reported higher perceived risk. Health behaviors, such as physical distancing, have shown to impact infectious disease trajectories. As the U.S. reopens its economy, public health officials and politicians must formulate culturally appropriate and evidence-based messaging and policies, based on the public's COVID-19 risk perceptions, to encourage preventive behaviors.

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