Californians support COVID-19 restrictions and remain worried about outbreak, survey shows

©The Sacramento Bee

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians still support efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak through restrictions on public spaces and their worries about COVID-19 have not diminished since the spring, a new poll shows.

The survey by the Public Policy Institute of California showed 74% of respondents favor restrictions on public activity to mange the pandemic, or want more aggressive limitations.

Just 26% of respondents want looser restrictions on public activity during the pandemic.

Researchers also found a majority, 61%, of state residents say they are either very or somewhat concerned about contracting the coronavirus and needing to be hospitalized. The figure is similar to the results of a May survey, which found 58% respondents felt the same way.

“Californians continue to express concerns about getting sick from the coronavirus, and a slim majority say the worst is behind us,” PPIC president Mark Baldassare said.

The poll of 1,704 Californians comes as officials say the state is starting to see lowered rates of COVID-19 transmission. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state reported 2,950 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the pandemic total to more than 762,000 cases. California has reported nearly 14,500 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

The numbers are grim, but better than recent weeks when the state averaged 4,000 new cases per day.

“We are turning the corner in suppressing this latest increase,” Newsom said.

A slim majority of Californians said the worst of the pandemic is behind us, while 42% said they believe the worst is yet to come. The response in California is similar to national figures, which show about 43% of American adults feel the worst is yet to come, according to a September CNN survey.

After a short phase of limited reopening at the start of the summer, California in recent months tightened restrictions on social gatherings and business operations.

The Newsom administration’s latest system to track the virus categorizes counties into different colored tiers based on their levels of risk. Most California counties are in the two highest-restricted tiers, purple and red, meaning the virus remains prevalent at worrisome levels in those communities. Only 11 counties, mostly small and rural, were in the two lower-risk tiers when the survey was administered.

Viewpoints on the coronavirus pandemic tend to vary across social and economic strata, the report found.

Notably, 61% of Republicans reported wanting fewer restrictions, compared to 32% of independents and 9% of Democrats. Men are also more likely than women to think there should be fewer restrictions.

Californians with annual household incomes under $40,000 are twice as likely to be very concerned about being hospitalized with the coronavirus as those with incomes of $80,000 or more. Black and Latino Californians are more likely to be concerned than Asian and white residents.

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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