Pandemic Spurs Surging Confidence in Health Care Systems, Diminished Confidence in Law Enforcement

August 14, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Bucks County Community College's Health Sciences Department faculty gathered boxes of excess medical supplies to donate to clinical affiliates to ease the shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Confidence in two of America’s institutions hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – health care and public education – has risen sharply for Americans since last year, according to a recent Gallup poll measuring America’s confidence in its top institutions. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s frontline workers in hospitals across the country have been treating those infected with the virus, filling some hospitals to their maximum capacity. As a result, 51% of Americans believe that they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in America’s medical system, up from last year’s 35% of the same belief. 

Meanwhile, confidence in America’s education system is at 41%, up 12 points from last year’s 29%. The surge of confidence in America’s educational institutions comes as schools prepare for the start of another year still uncertain of how best to proceed. 

According to Gallup, the surge in confidence in the medical and school systems falls into line with the service’s previous data findings on how institutions have fared against the pandemic. 

In addition to America’s medical and education systems, there has been rising confidence in other institutions as well. 

Confidence in banks, small businesses, and the church has risen, with percentages reaching 38%, 75% and 42%, respectively. 

To put these percentages into perspective, the 38% confidence for banks has nearly reached the same levels as those prior to the 2008 recession. 

Additionally, small businesses have a 75% favorability ranking, placing them alongside top institutions in America like the military (72%) and health care (51%). 

Confidence in the church has risen 6 percentage points to 42%, contrary to the usual historic low in confidence levels for organized religion. 

As faith in certain institutions in America is on the rise, other institutions have not fared as well. 

“White respondents have been much more confident than Black respondents in the police, but the current 37-point gap is larger than it has been historically,” noted Gallup.

According to Gallup, 48% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in America’s law enforcement. America’s confidence in the police has dipped below a majority level. 

The recent poll showing the decline of confidence in the police has kept in line with the overall steady decline in police confidence for the past decade. The highest level of confidence Americans had in the police once reached 64% back in 2004. 

When broken down in terms of racial demographics, 55% of White Americans have “a great deal” or quite a lot” of confidence in the police, while 19% of Black Americans say they feel the same way. 

According to a separate Gallup poll focusing specifically on how racial demographics feel about America’s institutions, the gap between White and Black Americans has widened considerably over time since 1993. 

“White respondents have been much more confident than Black respondents in the police, but the current 37-point gap is larger than it has been historically,” noted Gallup. 

Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions survey was conducted from mid-June to late July, following the social and political unrest that arose after the death of George Floyd.

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