The coronavirus public health crisis is also a political-communication and health-communication crisis. In this article, the authors describe the key communication-related phenomena and evidence of concerning effects manifested in the United States during the initial response to the pandemic. The authors outline the conditions of communication about coronavirus that contribute to deleterious outcomes, including partisan cueing, conflicting science, downplayed threats, emotional arousal, fragmented media, and Trump's messaging. The authors suggest these have contributed to divergent responses by media sources, partisan leaders, and the public alike, leading to different attitudes and beliefs as well as varying protective actions taken by members of the public to reduce their risk. In turn, these divergent communication phenomena will likely amplify geographic variation in and inequities with COVID-19 disease outcomes. The authors conclude with some suggestions for future research, particularly surrounding communication about health inequity and strategies for reducing partisan divergence in views of public health issues in the future.

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