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Survey: Louisianians still anxious, cautious about COVID

wearing a mask
Posted at 12:19 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 13:19:12-04

A recent LSU survey has found that Louisiana people are going out more, but are still anxious about public health - and a majority of them say they are wearing masks outside their homes.

Researchers at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found that as Louisiana moves to reopen parts of its economy, Louisiana residents are moving more frequently in their communities, have anxieties about public health and the economy but remain cautious in beginning to re-engage with many economic activities.

Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, and Martin Johnson, Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication and dean of the Manship School, conducted the survey with Internetbased market research and data analytics firm YouGov, re-interviewing 757 Louisiana residents age 18 or older from across the state, May 20-June 1.

Each respondent was previously interviewed April 15-28.

“This survey shows just how widespread the pandemic’s impact has been on the physical and mental health as well as the economic well-being of residents of Louisiana,” Henderson said. “Many remain concerned about these impacts and are approaching the reopening of the state cautiously.”

The survey’s main findings include:
• A large percentage of Louisiana residents know someone who has tested positive for COVID19 (42 percent) and 23 percent know someone who has died from complications related to the disease. However, the data also show the disparities between black and white Louisianans on exposure to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Approximately half of black Louisiana residents (49 percent) know someone who tested positive for the disease, while 39 percent of white residents do. Forty percent of black residents know someone who has died from complications related to COVID-19; the share among white respondents is 17 percent.

• Louisiana residents were more likely to leave their homes in the end of May with the governor’s relaxation of the stay-at-home order and the implementation of Phase 1: 71 percent of state residents in this more recent data say they have stayed home instead of going to work, school or other regular activities during the previous two weeks. In the Manship School’s April survey, 81 percent of the same respondents said they had stayed home during the pandemic. As more Louisiana residents leave their homes, they are more frequently wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth when outside the home. The combined share of respondents who say they either always or very often wear face coverings when outside the home (62 percent) is an increase from April when only 48 percent said they wore a face covering very often or always.

• Louisiana residents are uncomfortable with many activities outside the home. A majority of state residents say, at this time, they are uncomfortable getting on an airplane (77 percent), going to a large sports or entertainment event (75 percent), eating out at a restaurant (60 percent), going to a barber shop or hair salon (56 percent), and going to a retail clothing store (54 percent). At the same time, a majority of state residents are comfortable going to a grocery store (67 percent), going to parks (63 percent) and visiting friends (58 percent).

• The survey does show more pronounced partisan differences on reopening the economy than Henderson and Johnson found in April. In the current data from May, most Democrats (89 percent) support continuing restrictions even at an economic cost, while most Republicans (68 percent) support easing restrictions for the sake of the economy even if it comes at a health cost.

The survey was funded by philanthropic support from the Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication Johnson holds. Henderson and Johnson developed the survey instrument, replicating some items from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s national polling on the spread of coronavirus.

See the full survey results at https://www.lsu.edu/manship/files/coronavirus-second-wave-results-lapublic-reactions.pdf.

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