Survey reveals racial, political differences in COVID-19 responses

Michigan State University
25-Feb-2021 2:35 PM EST, by Michigan State University

Newswise — EAST LANSING, Mich. – America's stark racial disparities in health care have been exposed by COVID-19, but a new study from Michigan State University suggests that Black individuals are more likely than conservative White people to adhere to public health standards due to disparities.

The study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, used data from MSU’s State of the State Survey that was captured during the initial COVID-19 outbreak from a representative group of 800 adults in Michigan. 

“Our findings suggest that although COVID impacts all Michiganders, reactions to COVID are politicized. This is significant because if people base their response to COVID on politics rather than science, they may be placing themselves at risk,” said Zachary Neal, MSU associate professor of psychology and study co-author. 

What’s more: Michigan residents’ race impacted how much politics affected their views of COVID. 

“When COVID was politicized, partisanship mattered more to White Michiganders than it did to Black Michiganders,” Neal said. “This is significant because it could mean that White Michiganders are more likely to misjudge COVID risks due to politics. For example, although Black Michiganders on average said they would comply with stay-at-home orders, only the more liberal White Michiganders said they would comply.” 

In considering political ideology, the findings reveal that conservative White individuals were more likely to have noncompliance attitudes toward local and state COVID orders than more liberal White people and Black people who tend towards compliance.

Overall, Black Michiganders’ attitudes toward the pandemic were more in line with public health recommendations around mask wearing and stay-at-home orders than views held by their White counterparts. Researchers point to a long history of health, social and economic disparities as the driving force. They found that Black Michiganders were more likely to contract COVID-19 or lose their job as a result of COVID-19 and thereby more likely to comply with regulations.

“Black Americans experience a disproportionately greater rate of preexisting conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, that place them at an elevated COVID risk,” said Kaston Anderson-Carpenter, MSU assistant professor of psychology and study lead author. “Since social determinants of health adversely impact Black Michiganders, adhering to the restrictions may also be perceived as a preventive health measure. Black people who work in essential jobs may also care for family members who have preexisting conditions, which may also influence their adherence to COVID restrictions.” 

Using data from the State of the State survey, conducted by MSU's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Anderson-Carpenter and Neal measured 12 areas of COVID-19 sentiment across four categories: personal impacts, the perceived severity of the virus, the state of Michigan's response to rising caseloads and Michigan's initial stay-at-home order.

Beyond the politicization of the virus, Anderson-Carpenter and Neal’s paper reinforces the national conversation about Black people being disproportionately affected by the virus. 

“Very little has happened between May and now to reduce racial disparities or political divisions; if anything, both are now worse than before,” Neal said. “Knowing now what was happening then — and, now that we’re experiencing another surge in cases — more resources need to go to the Black communities to address both the health and economic impacts of COVID, particularly now that vaccines are available.” 

By highlighting the impact of partisan perceptions, the researchers hope their study stresses the extensive disparities related to COVID health care and encourage public health officials to focus on providing assistance to Black communities. 

“It is imperative to understand how COVID has been politicized in Michigan as a microcosm of the nation, and we hope the study encourages politicians to make COVID a nonpartisan issue,” Anderson-Carpenter said.


(Note for media: Please include the following link to the study in all online media coverage:




Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 165 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.


For MSU news on the Web, go to MSUToday. Follow MSU News on Twitter at


Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5640
Released: 15-May-2021 8:05 AM EDT
Rutgers Reports First Instance of COVID-19 Triggering Recurrent Blood Clots in Arms
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School are reporting the first instance of COVID-19 triggering a rare recurrence of potentially serious blood clots in people’s arms.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 20-May-2021 10:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 14-May-2021 2:40 PM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 20-May-2021 10:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Released: 14-May-2021 11:25 AM EDT
Access to overdose-reversing drugs declined during pandemic, researchers find
Beth Israel Lahey Health

In a new study, clinician-researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) analyzed naloxone prescription trends during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and compared them to trends in opioid prescriptions and to overall prescriptions.

Released: 14-May-2021 11:00 AM EDT
No Excuses: Stop Procrastinating on These Key Health Checks
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

A quick guide to the most-valuable preventive care that adults need to get scheduled, to catch up on what they may have missed during the height of the pandemic, and to address issues that the pandemic might have worsened.

Released: 13-May-2021 7:05 PM EDT
FLCCC Statement on the Irregular Actions of Public Health Agencies & the Disinformation Campaign Against Ivermectin
Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC Alliance)

FLCCC Alliance calls for whistleblower to step forward from within WHO, the FDA, the NIH, Merck, or Unitaid to counter this misrepresentation

Newswise: shutterstock_1724336896.jpg
Released: 13-May-2021 12:55 PM EDT
Kreuter receives $1.9 million in grants to increase vaccinations in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis

Matthew Kreuter, the Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School, has received $1.9 million in grants to help increase COVID-19 vaccinations among Blacks in St. Louis City and County.

Released: 13-May-2021 11:35 AM EDT
COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines are Immunogenic in Pregnant and Lactating Women, Including Against Viral Variants
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

In a new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers evaluated the immunogenicity of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in pregnant and lactating women who received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. They found that both vaccines triggered immune responses in pregnant and lactating women.

Released: 13-May-2021 10:30 AM EDT
Pandemic stigma: Foreigners, doctors wrongly targeted for COVID-19 spread in India
Monash University

The Indian public blamed foreigners, minority groups and doctors for the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the country during the first wave, due to misinformation, rumour and long-held discriminatory beliefs, according to an international study led by Monash University.

Showing results

110 of 5640