The New Normal Has Its Ups and Downs

Although you may cringe the next time you see or hear the phrase “the new normal,” it’s part of the communicator’s job to keep tabs on trends. A slew of surveys is helping PR pros pick up on new and emerging patterns.

Though there’s little positive to say about coronavirus, not everything in this moment is negative. For example, with most people homebound, more meals are cooked at home, which a majority see as a positive experience (net + 57), according to an APCO Worldwide survey.

Additional positive experiences during quarantining include more book reading (net +50), playing family games (net +49), getting more sleep (net +38) and watching more TV (net +30). APCO surveyed 1,000 adult Americans April 3.

A traditional point of pain for many, technology, also is getting good reviews. APCO found 60 percent of those using technology to connect with family and friends see it as a positive change.

On the down side, 70 percent of Americans in the APCO survey say they've experienced at least one kind of negative emotion recently.

Not surprisingly, Americans’ perceptions of countries have changed. Opinions of China are down (net -24) and are up for South Korea (+ 19 percent), where the response to the virus is seen as progressive.

Misinformation Spreading Faster Than COVID-19

Perception, of course, can be a tricky thing. Particularly when so much information and misinformation are flying around.

For example, a Pew poll shows three in 10 Americans believe COVID-19 was created in a laboratory. While it’s unclear how the virus originated, there is little evidence that it was manufactured. The Pew poll was conducted March 10-16.

A report late today discusses the possibility that the virus originated in a lab, specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The Washington Post's Josh Rogan cited US State Department cables from 2018 warning of experiments in the lab surrounding bats and coronaviruses. Sent to Washington, the cables express concern with WIV's poor safety procedures. It is possible the virus escaped from the lab accidentally. The cable's were ignored in 2018, but resurfaced when the virus reached US shores.

It's possible subsequent coverage of this story will change Americans' opinions on this story. Certainly, Americans will gain exposure to it since they are paying attention to the news at a record pace.

Surveys from the Knight Foundation and Gallup find Americans are keeping up with the news at a level not seen for three years. Attention to local and international news has doubled since December 2019.  National news-watching has increased 13 percent. The survey was conducted March 17-29 with 1,450 US adults.

This article is part of PRNEWS' daily COVID-19 coverage, click here to see the latest updates.