One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. had lost over a half million lives to the virus. Organizations had to shift the way they operated, requiring effective communication to help employees transition. This study examines two important time periods during the pandemic: early May, just after stay-at-home orders began to be lifted, and late November, as infection rates soared. This study quantitatively examines the role of perceived severity, organizational trust, reputation, and credibility on participants employed during the pandemic expectations of leadership at the organizational, state, and federal levels. Then, participants were interviewed to understand perceptions of leadership. Results illustrate the relationship between perceived severity of the threat and trust in leadership and uncertainty about mitigation measures from state and federal levels.



Author ORCID Identifier

Deborah D. Sellnow-Richmond: 0000-0001-6179-0307

Marta N. Lukacovic: 0000-0002-8244-892X

Scott A. Sellnow-Richmond: 0000-0003-2915-9931