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Mass. voters say they are worried about the coronavirus, Suffolk/Globe poll finds

A researcher tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus.Kena Betancur/Gett

A large majority of likely Democratic primary voters in Mass. are worried about the coronavirus becoming a pandemic in the US, according to a poll released Saturday by Suffolk University, The Boston Globe, and WBZ-TV.

The poll found that more than 70 percent of voters are concerned about the virus: 33 percent reported they are “very concerned,” and 39 percent reported they are “somewhat concerned.” Less than 30 percent reported they are “not very concerned,” or “not concerned at all.” The poll’s margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.

The poll results come in the wake of the first US coronavirus fatality reported in Washington state Saturday, amid President Trump’s remarks that additional cases are “likely,” and one day after the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its risk assessment of the global outbreak to its highest level. Additionally, the WHO reported early Sunday that the “window is narrowing” to contain the virus, also known as COVID-19, after Thailand and Australia also reported their first fatalities.

“While countries need to prepare for a pandemic, facts show there’s no such threat yet,” said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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In the US, in addition to cases in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Illinois, there was one confirmed case early last month of the novel virus in Massachusetts, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Still, the Bay State is taking precautions ahead of crowded events like the Boston Marathon, which draws thousands of runners and visitors from around the world every year. For now, the Patriot’s Day race is “proceeding as planned,” but a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the world’s oldest marathon as fears of a global pandemic intensify.

“We will continue to closely follow updates from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Public Health, and World Health Organization, and will adhere to any policies put forth by the federal government,” said Kendra Butters, a spokeswoman for the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Marathon.

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In Cambridge, biotech company Moderna is the first to enter clinical trials with experimental vaccines that could prevent the disease. But if approved, the company cautions it would still be “at least 12 to 18 months” before the vaccine could be deployed.

The Suffolk/Globe poll was conducted Wednesday through Saturday with live callers surveying 500 residents on the presidential primary race ahead of Super Tuesday. Residents included in the poll were from across the state.





Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.