How seriously a person treats the Covid-19 pandemic could depend on where they get their news.
That’s according to a new poll of New Hampshire residents released Tuesday by the University of New Hampshire.
Researchers found that overall, about three in four residents polled said they always wore a face mask in public, or did so except when they were outside and socially distanced. But when it came to residents who reported frequently watching Fox News or listening to conservative talk radio, those numbers were much lower.
Just half of New Hampshire residents who frequently watch Fox News said they wore a mask in public, unless they were outside or socially distanced. A third of residents who frequently listen to conservative talk radio said the same.
Fox News and conservative media outlets have repeatedly downplayed the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic, going against the advice of public health experts.
The divides also carried over to how concerned residents were about the pandemic, what they thought the government’s priority should be and whether or not the worst was yet to come.
A quarter of those who watch Fox News frequently said they were worried about their own or their family’s health, while 15% of those who listened to conservative radio frequently said the same. By contrast, two-thirds of people who never consumed Fox News or conservative radio said they had health concerns.
Just 12% of frequent Fox News viewers and 3% of frequent conservative radio listeners said the government should prioritize containing the spread of the virus as opposed to restarting the economy. Meanwhile, about 80% of residents who never consumed Fox News or conservative radio said containing the spread of Covid-19 should be a higher priority.
And about 21% of frequent Fox News viewers and 6% of frequent conservative radio listeners said the worst was yet to come, compared to about 75% of people who never consumed news from those sources.
While the findings could signal how the rest of the pandemic plays out, they may not necessarily apply outside of New Hampshire – where the motto “Live Free or Die” is more than just a slogan and independent voters make up a considerable portion of the state’s electorate.
New Hampshire is also among the least hard-hit states by Covid-19. The state reported more than 7,200 Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday, with 432 deaths.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the day the poll was released. It was Tuesday.