Aug 28, 2020 - World

Some countries see pandemic as unifying. Not America

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most people across 14 wealthy countries surveyed by Pew tend to think their country has handled the pandemic well — and in Denmark and Australia that view is near-universal.

The flipside: There are two exceptions to the generally positive outlook: the U.S. and U.K. Americans were also by far the most likely to say the pandemic has divided their country (77%), rather than uniting it (18%).

Even in hard-hit countries like Italy and Belgium, which has the world's highest population-adjusted death rate, views are generally positive.

  • Despite their controversial no-lockdown approach, Swedes also tend to think their country has performed well. They're also among the most likely to believe it has united their country (58%).
  • Responses are overwhelmingly positive in South Korea and Germany, which have been widely praised for their strong responses to the virus.
  • Danes (72%) and Canadians (66%) are most likely to say the pandemic has been unifying.

Between the lines: The polling was conducted throughout the summer, when most of these countries — but not the U.S. — had either bounced back from large initial outbreaks, or managed to avoid them.

What to watch: Several European countries have seen sharp spikes in cases in recent weeks.

  • Spain now has the highest infection rate in Europe. France isn't far behind, while Italy recorded its highest single-day case total since May on Thursday.
  • Death rates across Europe remain far lower than those seen in recent weeks in the U.S. and Latin America.
  • While cases in the U.S. are ticking downward, America still accounted for 18% of all new cases recorded worldwide over the last week, as well as 18% of deaths.

Go deeper: U.S. far behind other rich countries in coronavirus response

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