Senior citizens more defiant despite coronavirus vulnerability, poll finds

Senior citizens seem to be the least concerned about the coronavirus pandemic despite being the most vulnerable to contracting serious complications from the illness, a new poll found.

A Harris Poll taken from March 5 to 9 found that seniors are more likely to exhibit more defiant behavior than millennials as the illness continues to spread. The survey found that 81 percent of respondents age 65 and older are still willing to attend family or social gatherings versus 71 percent of millennials.

Overall, eight in 10 Americans are willing to attend social gatherings, the survey found.

Many governments are discouraging large gatherings to prevent further infections, and a number of high-profile events have either been canceled or postponed.

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According to the survey, 77 percent of seniors said they believe they are unlikely to contract the virus given their everyday habits. Around 67 percent of millennials agreed.

The poll also found that millennials are more concerned about dying from the illness than their senior counterparts, despite warnings from medical professionals that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions could have an acute reaction if exposed to the virus.

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"If you look at the people who wind up getting into serious difficulty and even dying, that’s very heavily weighted toward individuals with underlying conditions, particularly the elderly," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told "Fox & Friends" on Monday.

Nearly six in 10 millennials are concerned about dying from the virus, also known as COVID-19, versus five in 10 seniors.

Worldwide, the pandemic has sickened more than 128,000 people and claimed the lives of 4,700 others. Most of the cases are in mainland China, but Italy and Iran have seen a surge in cases.

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Many respondents are shifting their behaviors in response to the virus, the survey found. Less than 50 percent said they were willing to attend sporting events, and go to bars and gyms.

Several sports leagues, including the NBA and NHL, have suspended their 2019-2020 seasons in an effort to prevent possible exposure during games. The NBA did so after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus.

While 71 percent of survey respondents were concerned with how the federal government responds to the pandemic, 61 percent felt the media is overhyping it.