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Introduction: There have been over 87 million cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States (US).

Objective: The objective of this study was to develop a novel questionnaire to assess risk perception of COVID-19 and xenophobic attitudes among adults in the US at the beginning of the pandemic.

Methods: An anonymous self-report questionnaire was developed for this study in February 2020, and was distributed using convenience sampling from March 10 to March 25, 2020. The questionnaire assessed knowledge and risk perceptions of COVID-19, as well as attitudes toward individuals of various races and ethnicities.

Results: 662 US adults completed the questionnaire. On a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high), the mean risk perception was 3.44. Those with knowledge of COVID-19 and higher education levels reported higher risk perception and higher feelings of warmth towards Asian people. Forty percent of the sample had recently witnessed or experienced anti-Asian attitudes at the time of the survey. The majority of participants reported having heard about COVID-19 from news media, social media, and family or friends.

Conclusions: Our sample had a moderate level of risk perception, potentially due to the time period of data collection (i.e., early in the pandemic course). The results suggest that knowledge about COVID-19 informed perceived risk and affected willingness to engage in healthy protective behaviors. Our study provides historic context of how people perceived the virus at the beginning of the pandemic, and gives insight into the aftermaths regarding quarantine and attitudes towards Asian Americans.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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