The COVID States Project Survey of U.S. Pandemic Opinions

The COVID States Project is a nationwide, 50-state survey of opinions related to the COVID-19 pandemic that has been in the field regularly since March, 2020. It is run by a multi-university collaboration including Harvard Kennedy School, Northeastern University, Rutgers University, Harvard Medical School, and Northwestern University. The Kennedy School’s Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications Matthew Baum, whose research work is based at the Shorenstein Center, is one of the lead researchers on the project.

See below for reports from the survey project:

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Trends – February 2022
This report examines the over-time shifts in COVID-19 vaccine misperceptions across different social groups. The authors explore whether those who believe misinformation are aware that their views contradict the prevailing opinion of scientists and medical experts. The authors also highlight the connection between COVID-19 misinformation and trust in the government, media, science and medicine, and update their findings linking misperceptions with attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Child Vaccination Rate – February 2022
It has been approximately 9 months since the FDA authorized youth ages 12 to 17 to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and 3 months since authorization for kids ages 5 to 11. After each authorization, vaccination rates initially surged among those age groups. Now that more time has elapsed – along with the spike in cases due to the Omicron variant – how have vaccination rates fared among minors, and how have parents’ likelihood of vaccinating their kids changed?

Americans’ Views on Violence Against the Government – January 2022
Recent years have seen armed protests, threats, and violence against government officials following mask mandates, COVID-19 related closures, and the 2020 election (including, most notably, the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the US capitol). These events have sparked concern about the state of American democracy and the safety of government officials. In this report, the authors examine Americans’ attitudes toward the acceptability of violent protest against the government.

At-home COVID tests – January 2022
In this brief report, the authors assess the extent to which positive results on home antigen tests are not reflected in the number of official cases in the United States. In this survey, individuals were asked if they had tested positive, and then whether they had ever tested positive using an “at-home” test.

American mask use and CDC guidance – January 2022
The authors examine Americans’ current attitudes towards mask use including whether and what type of masks Americans currently use, beliefs regarding CDC mask recommendations (attitudes collected before the CDC’s updated guidance issued January 14, 2022), beliefs about which types of masks offer the greatest protection, and how mask use has changed over the course of the pandemic. These data shed light on the current masking behavior of Americans and point to current popular understanding (or misunderstanding) of CDC recommendations.

Healthcare Workers’ Perception of COVID-19 Misinformation – January 2022
The objective of this survey is to extract the understanding of healthcare workers, based on their interactions with people, of the role that misinformation has played in the decisions of those individuals, and from where those individuals have received misinformation.

Storming of the Capitol, One Year Later – January 2022
The COVID states project conducted a survey and issued a report in the immediate aftermath of the storming of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Here, the authors revisit some of the opinions regarding January 6th, a year later.

Attitudes toward COVID-19 Boosters Before and After Omicron – December 2021
In this brief report, the authors examine attitudes toward COVID-19 booster shots, and whether they differ across particular groups of people. Since the survey was ongoing when news about Omicron emerged in the US, the authors also take an initial look at whether these attitudes have begun to shift along with perceptions of the threat posed by COVID-19 subsequent to the November 26th announcement.

Parental Concerns Over COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids – December 2021
Building on survey data from earlier in the year, the authors provide an update on the prevalence of parents’ top five concerns about vaccinating kids against COVID-19. The authors also examine tendencies and shifts over time for subpopulations of parents, such as by political partisanship, race/ethnicity, gender and age, population density, education level, and likelihood of vaccinating their kids against COVID-19.

American Attitudes Toward Critical Race Theory – December 2021
To evaluate the public’s attitudes toward Critical Race Theory (CRT), the authors of this survey asked a series of questions about attitudes towards CRT including concern with how history is currently taught in public schools, familiarity with CRT, support for teaching CRT versus support for teaching the legacy of racism, and how well the public thinks CRT describes American society.

School Board Elections – November 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic and the backlash against Critical Race Theory have led to increased attention to school board elections. To better understand who votes in these elections and who attends school board meetings, this report examines the demographic characteristics of individuals who say they attended a school board meeting in the past 6 months and those who say they voted for school board at some point in the past year.

Childhood COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Intentions – November 2021
In early November 2021, children ages 5-11 were authorized by the CDC to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, making an additional 28 million children eligible for the shot. In this report, the authors examine reported childhood vaccination rates by age and across different parent demographic subgroups. Additionally, the authors report parents’ express likelihood of vaccinating their children against COVID-19 across five survey waves from February, April, June, September, and November 2021.

Governor Charlie Baker’s Approval – November 2021
The COVID States Project regularly asks people in all 50 states about their approval of their governor’s handling of the pandemic and, in our most recent survey, about approval of their governor’s overall job performance. In this report, we focus on the approval of Governor Charlie Baker’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic since April 2020, and Baker’s most recent general approval rating.

Student Attitudes about University COVID-19 Policies – November 2021
With the return of students to U.S. colleges and universities this September, more than 1,000 institutions of higher education have implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates to keep COVID-19 cases low. In this report, the authors examine college students’ attitudes toward mandates on campus and in general, as well as student approval of their university administration’s handling of COVID-19 vaccination.

Heightened Parental Concerns about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children – October 2021
In early October 2021, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize their COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. The success of vaccinating children is, however, still contingent upon whether parents feel their children should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Who are the masked unvaccinated and the unmasked vaccinated? – October 2021
Given the link between mask-wearing and vaccination, discussions of behaviors relating to COVID-19 often lump people into two categories: those who behave in ways that prevent the spread of COVID-19 and those who do not. However, doing so misses the complexity of who engages or doesn’t engage in behaviors that stem the spread of COVID-19, or why they do so. Understanding this complexity is significant in getting people vaccinated, and in getting people to wear masks – particularly those who are unvaccinated.

September 2021 Update on Executive Approval – October 2021
In this report, the authors examine the approval of governors and the President for their handling of the pandemic – and for the President’s overall approval – over time across the U.S. to access how the public reacted to the policy decisions and developments surrounding the pandemic as well as state and federal government responses.

COVID-19 Vaccine Attitudes among Healthcare Workers – October 2021
The vaccination rates of healthcare workers are of particular importance because they are more likely to be conduits of exposure for vulnerable individuals. Here the authors revisit their earlier report on the vaccination rates of healthcare workers between June and September.

Continued High Public Support for Mandating Vaccines – October 2021
In this report, the authors update their assessment of public support for vaccine mandates, both nationally and across the 50 states, based on their September survey wave.

The Decision to Not Get Vaccinated, from the Perspective of the Unvaccinated – September 2021
What are the primary reasons for the choice to not get vaccinated (yet), from the perspective of those not getting vaccinated? In order to get at this critical issue, we included closed and open-ended survey questions for the two waves of our survey conducted April-July. We focus on 6 categories of answers that people might provide: life constraints, perception of benefit, perception of risk, uncertainty regarding the risks the vaccine poses, lack of trust in institutions, and fear of needles.

COVID-19 Vaccine Attitudes Among Healthcare Workers – August 2021
This report is a sequel to our February and March reports on attitudes and vaccination rates of healthcare workers, including vaccine resistance, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine access, and vaccine refusal.

Parental Concerns About COVID-19 Vaccines – August 2021
What are parents’ top concerns about COVID-19 vaccinations for their children? Do these concerns vary based on a parent’s partisanship, gender, age, race, income, education, or place of residence? In this report, we examine the most prevalent major concerns for parents by demographic groups to better understand the various sources of vaccine hesitancy among parents.

Vaccine Misinformation: From Uncertainty to Resistance – August 2021
How prevalent is the public’s belief in vaccine misinformation? Is that belief associated with vaccine resistance? Are some social groups more susceptible to it than others? This report focuses on these questions, exploring misinformation beliefs across social groups and their connection with vaccine attitudes. 

What Americans think about people who are not vaccinated – August 2021
In this report, we evaluate how people feel about those who are vaccinated and those who are not using a “feeling thermometer.” Our analyses examine how feelings expressed by the respondents are linked to factors such as partisanship, education, gender, age, income, place of residence and personal vaccination status, among others.

High public support for mandating vaccines – July 2021
As the remaining unvaccinated population becomes increasingly difficult to reach, persistent questions emerge regarding whether vaccines should be mandatory in some or all circumstances. In this report, we update our assessment of public support for vaccine mandates, both nationally and across the 50 states, based on our June/July survey wave.

Social media news consumption and COVID-19 vaccination rates – July 2021
Earlier this month, we witnessed a vigorous back and forth between the White House and Facebook regarding the role of the company in circulating health misinformation. In this report, we examine the relationship between Facebook news consumption and vaccine hesitancy. 

Vaccine Resistance Among Parents – July 2021
With school just around the corner in many states, how do Americans feel about requiring COVID-19 vaccination for in-person school attendance? And how do parents feel about vaccinating their kids? Since our last two reports on parents’ vaccination attitudes in March and May, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 12 and older, and over two-thirds of adults are at least partially vaccinated as of July 2021. Yet, while attitudes towards child vaccination have become more positive, the trend has been uneven across parents of different gender and age.

Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic – July 2021
COVID-19 is transmitted through physical proximity; as a result, reducing proximity has been the major preventative measure used against the pandemic until the recent introduction of vaccines. Has social isolation in the US increased during the pandemic? In this report, we examine trends in social support (the resources and help that people can mobilize through their social networks) and social isolation (when individuals have few or no relationships through which they can mobilize resources and help).

Mental Health in the United States – May 2021
With rapid progress toward vaccination in the United States along with falling COVID-19 case rates and a reopening economy, federal and state leaders speak optimistically about a return to normalcy this summer. But as cases diminish, have the unprecedented rates of depression and anxiety documented in our reports, and in other US surveys, also begun to normalize?

Public Support for Vaccine Passports – May 2021
Americans appear to generally support vaccine mandates issued by local, state, and federal governments, but they appear to be less comfortable with such mandates being imposed by businesses in the form of “Vaccine Passports.” Overall, support for VP requirements is higher when presented as a voluntary option that businesses would be allowed to adopt, rather than as a requirement that businesses must adopt.

Public Support for Vaccine Requirements – May 2021
As more Americans are being vaccinated, politicians, institutional leaders, and individual members of the public are debating in what contexts vaccine requirements are appropriate and who should be allowed to set the rules. This report explores public support for such requirements in the aggregate and broken out by demographic subgroups of the population, as well as at the state level.

Trajectory of Health-Related Behaviors in California – May 2021
While, on average, adherence to health and safety guidelines has slightly decreased since the spring, spikes in caseloads near the end of 2020 may have contributed to higher rates of social distancing, safer behaviors outside of the home, and stricter following of public health recommendations in California. Our survey data suggest that since the start of the new year, as more Californians have been getting vaccinated, they have begun to relax some of their adherence to social distancing and other public health recommendations.

Update on the Johnson & Johnson Pause – May 2021
We evaluate whether the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13 negatively affected vaccine attitudes. We find no evidence that the pause affected vaccine intentions. However, the rapid rate of vaccinations has largely exhausted the number of vaccine enthusiastic people, likely driving the current slow down in vaccination rates.

Prospects for Vaccinating America’s Youth – May 2021
With Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine soon to be available to 12-15-year-olds, how prepared are Americans to vaccinate their children? And do they support requiring that children be vaccinated before returning to in-person school? In this report, we examine three aspects of childhood vaccinations: parents’ resistance to vaccinating their children, support among all adults for making vaccinations a requirement in schools, and attitudes towards vaccination among youth.

Assessing the Impact of the Pause in Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use on COVID-19 Vaccination Intent – April 2021
On April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, following reports of a rare type of blood clot emerging in a small number of individuals following the use of the vaccine. In this report, we evaluate the likely impact of the pause on vaccine resistance. We do this through two types of analyses: the first analysis compares responses of individuals who participated in the survey before the pause to those who participated after the pause; the second involved re-interviewing a subset of respondents who had participated in our survey before April 13th and indicated that they were not yet vaccinated.


Visit to see all reports from the project.