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Data: Axios/Ipsos polls; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

For the first time in his presidency, Joe Biden faces a trust deficit among Americans when it comes to COVID-19, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: The latest findings point to malaise more than fear. But malaise could spell real trouble for a Democratic president who built his support on a pledge to steer the nation out of crisis — and whose party's bare House and Senate majorities are on the line in 2022.

The big picture: Americans have become a bit less worried about living their lives. The respondents who see large risk in airline travel, dining out or visiting family and friends are at their lowest shares since mid-July.

  • And people are considerably more comfortable sending their kids back to school, or with Halloween trick-or-treating, than a year ago.
  • Still, they're stewing in the reality that even after the shutdowns, mask mandates and wide U.S. availability of effective vaccines, the virus is still mutating and with us.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said that any vaccinated American who wants a booster should be able to get one — not just the elderly or people at risk of severe illness.

What they're saying: "He won on COVID, he surfed the first six months on COVID, but he's being challenged by it now because there's not a clear resolution in sight," Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. public affairs, said of Biden.

  • "Delta and other issues have really undermined the public's perception" of how much they can trust Biden's assurances on curbing the pandemic.
  • "People have adapted. They have countermeasures they trust. But we're still in the middle of it. It hasn't gone away. You have to wear masks everywhere. It's doable, but it makes you frustrated."

By the numbers: 45% of those surveyed say they trust Biden a great deal or a fair amount to provide them with accurate information about the virus and pandemic, while 53% said they have little or no trust in him.

  • Compare that with the peak of trust in Biden on COVID — 58% to 42% — in our Jan. 22–25 survey, around his inauguration when he was in a honeymoon phase.
  • The slide can be seen across the political spectrum, with a net drop of 11 percentage points among Democrats, 17 points with independents and 10 points with Republicans.
  • In the latest survey, 81% of Democrats, 42% of independents and 11% of Republicans say they trust Biden on COVID.
  • 68% of parents surveyed said they see little or no risk in trick-or-treating this year, compared with 51% when we asked this question last October. And six in 10 adults see little or no risk to trick-or-treating in their community, a 15-point jump from last October.

Between the lines: The trust problem as the virus lingers goes beyond Biden, with declines over time for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (now 64%) and state governments (50%).

  • Trust in the federal government (49%) has risen and dipped, but is at around the same level as when Biden took office — and remains significantly higher than during Donald Trump's presidency.
  • Americans' trust in the media around COVID-19 information also has declined over time, for network news (now 45%), national newspapers (41%), cable news (34%) and conservative news outlets (26%).
  • Only about one in five respondents combined put a great or fair amount of trust in Fox's Tucker Carlson and in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Sept. 24–27 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,105 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Oct 26, 2021 - Health

FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-to-11-year-olds

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel Tuesday endorsed a two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5–11. The final vote was 17 members in favor, with one member abstaining.

Why it matters: While not binding, the decision is a long-awaited step toward getting COVID vaccines in the arms of some of the youngest Americans potentially in time to get many fully vaccinated in advance of the holiday season.

7 hours ago - Health

COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought

Tyson Foods in Portland, Maine, in 2020. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Cases and deaths from COVID-19 among workers at the five largest U.S. meatpacking companies were nearly three times higher than previously thought, according to a memo from the House panel probing the response to the pandemic.

Driving the news: At least 59,000 workers contracted COVID-19 and 269 workers died at Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, National Beef and Smithfield Foods — which together make up more than 80% of the beef market and 60% of the pork market in the U.S. — according to counts through January of this year.

No White House trick or treating this Halloween

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on Oct. 22. Photo: Leigh Vogel/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will not be at the White House on Halloween to hand out candy to trick or treaters this year, according to Michael LaRosa, the first lady's press secretary.

Driving the news: The Bidens will be in Rome for the G20 summit, which takes place Oct. 30-31.