In summer 2020, mitigation efforts slowed the first US wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts warned, however, that without coordinated, sustained mitigation—such as testing and tracing, limited travel or gatherings, social distancing and mask wearing—the worst could lie ahead. A July survey found majority (59%) agreement with the expert warnings, while a minority (27%) mistakenly thought that the worst was behind us, or that COVID-19 was not a real problem. Among Fox News viewers and conservative talk radio audiences, however, large majorities (67–80%) held such false optimism or denial views, in contrast with small minorities (9–16%) among public radio and local television audiences. Media effects on false optimism/denial remain substantial even after controlling for respondent demographics and partisan identity. False optimism and denial correlate with lower support for mitigation steps, which worsened the pandemic.
Hamilton, Lawrence C. and Safford, Thomas G., "“The Worst Is Behind Us” News Media Choice and False Optimism in the Summer of 2020" (2021). Academia Letters. 1001.