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One-quarter of Americans ‘willing to risk catching coronavirus if it means shortening economic recovery by a year’

MORE than one quarter of Americans would risk catching the coronavirus if it meant the economic recovery would be shortened by a year, a new study has found.

Although the majority of respondents (37%) said they would be reluctant to accept an increase in risk of contracting the virus, 26 per cent said they would accept a 16 per cent risk of being infected by COVID-19.

A further 13 per cent said they would accept a risk "well beyond 20 per cent" if it sped up the reopening of the country from three years to two. That group consisted of around 12 per cent Republicans, six per cent Democrats, and 20 per cent "independents".

In the study, conducted by Duke University’s clinical research institute, respondents largely agreed that reopening nonessential businesses was the most important policy.

More than a third (37 per cent) ranked it as the number one priority.

Reopening schools and colleges was the second-most important policy, followed by allowing dine-in meals in restaurants, reopening parks and museums, allowing sporting events to resume and reopening places of worship.

Researchers spoke to 5,953 individuals, and divided them into four classes: risk minimizers, waiters, pro-business and openers.

The risk minimizer class, those who were in favor of scenarios with lower chances of contracting the virus, made up 37 per cent of the responders.

About 44 per cent of all Democrats surveyed and 40 per cent of all Republicans were predicted to be in this group, compared to only 27 per cent of independents.

“When acceptance of social-distancing measures are framed in the context of tradeoffs among COVID-19 risks, longer economic downturns, and more families falling below the poverty line, we found that self-identified Democrats and Republicans actually had more similar tradeoff preferences compared to those identifying as independents,” the researchers wrote.

Nearly 39million Americans have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has said the Trump administration is considering rolling out a bonus scheme.

It is aimed at encouraging people back to their jobs as some workers may think they are better off on the $600 unemployment payments introduced in the coronavirus stimulus package.

The bonus was first proposed by Ohio senator Rob Portman - and it is understood any such scheme would expire at the end of July.

American unemployment is at its highest since records began as businesses closed across the country due to the outbreak.

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