Public Perceptions on Federal and State Governments’ Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Compliance with Precautionary measures against COVID-19 in the United States. Open Access

Naik, Pooja Ganesh (Spring 2021)

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Background: The American public’s trust in the federal and state government has been declining over years. In a pandemic as severe as COVID-19, it is important that federal and state governments have the right place in eyes and hearts of general public to ensure that the public health messages are relayed well. Through this study, we aim to understand whether the public perception of federal and state government response has association with the willingness to comply with precautionary measures against COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: During August – September 2020, 1647 adults were recruited to participate in an online survey assessing public perceptions on government response and compliance with precautionary measures. Trust in government was measured using five domains – Commitment, Honesty, Openness, Competency, and Care and Concern. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses were conducted using SAS; concordance analysis was conducted for understanding agreement in the study population and paired t-test was conducted for continuous outcomes.

Results: Overall, positive-leaning perception of state government response in terms of Commitment, Honesty, Openness, Competency, and Care and concern during COVID-19 was seen among the participants. Perceptions of federal government response during COVID-19 were largely leaning towards the negative side in all domains of trust. On average, the response score was lower for state government overall (Mean = 12.33, SD = 4.21) and higher for the federal government (Mean = 13.62, SD = 4.79) indicating a more positive perception of state government response. The Mean response scores across all five domains of trust i.e., Openness, Honesty, Competency, Commitment, and Care and concern also indicated more positive perception of state government than federal government. The log-binomial regression showed association between perceived quality of response at different levels of government and willingness to adopt precautionary measures for COVID-19.

Discussion: A higher probability/prevalence of mask wearing, hand washing, hand sanitizing is seen among individuals who perceived only state government as committed, honest, open, competent and caring and concerned during COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to those who had positive perception of only federal government or both governments. Compliance of precautionary measures was higher in individuals with a positive perception of both state and federal governments compared to individuals with positive perception of federal government only. These findings suggest the significance of trust in local or state level government as well as central government combined.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction


Problem Statement

Purpose Statement

Significance Statement

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Federalism in the United States

Role of federal government in a pandemic response

Role of state government in a pandemic response

Trust in government

Chapter 3: Methods

Study Design and Sample

Survey Instrument and Measures


Chapter 4: Analysis Plan

Descriptive Analysis

Concordance Analysis

COVID-19 Mean Government Response Score

Log-Binomial Regression

Chapter 5: Results

Distribution of demographics in the sample

Perceived Quality of Government Response during COVID-19 Pandemic

Concordance Analysis

COVID-19 Mean Government Response Score

Log-Binomial Regression

Chapter 6: Discussion

Chapter 7: Conclusion


Supplementary Materials

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