Most Californians Support Stay-at-Home Orders ‘as Long as Needed’

Just 11% of Californians say it’s time to throw open the economy and resume life as usual.

A San Francisco Bay Area freeway at rush hour while shelter in place orders remain in effect due to the novel coronavirus Covid-19. (Courthouse News photo / Chris Marshall)

(CN) — The vast majority of Californians support stay-at-home orders issued by state leaders as a means of stemming the surge of Covid-19 infections, even if the restrictive measures continue to weigh down the economy, according to a California Health Care Foundation poll released Friday.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday 115 people died overnight from Covid-19, the state’s deadliest one-day tally for fatalities so far in the battle against the virus. But despite a drop in the number of hospitalizations and patients in intensive care, Newsom said the virus remains a threat and did not signal a willingness to lift the shelter-in-place orders he issued last month.

His decision to continue social distancing and keep businesses closed is backed by 75% of Golden State residents, according to the survey conducted April 17-22 by the California Health Care Foundation and survey firm Ipsos.

The vast majority of Californians, 88%, also say they frequently avoided unnecessary trips out of the home in the last week while 78% say they routinely wear a mask in public spaces all or most of the time.

Strong majorities of residents, 93% and 94% respectively, say they stay at least six feet away from others in public spaces all or most of the time and frequently wash their hands with soap and water, the poll found.

Lifting shelter-in-place orders and partially reopening economic activity — a move being pursued by some U.S. states this week — is backed by just 11% of California residents, who say that would be their decision even if such actions increase the spread of coronavirus, the poll found.

Low-income Californians with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty line are particularly wary of any efforts to lift shelter-in-place restrictions, with just 4% backing such decrees.

One in five Californians (20%) with low incomes say they would like to get tested, compared to 14% of residents who said the same in an early April poll.

More than a third of Californians, 36%, were poor or near poor three years ago, according to a 2019 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, which noted federal poverty measures don’t account for the state’s infamously high housing costs.

Latinos made up 52% of California’s poor in 2017 while representing 39% of the total state population, according to the PPIC report.

According to the California Health Care Foundation poll, only 13% of residents say they had no opinion of the matter or didn’t know what direction to support.

The foundation’s market analyst Kristof Stremikis said in a statement the poll shows residents are not willing to sacrifice their health to boost the economy.

“There is widespread agreement among Californians that the state’s shelter-in-place orders should be continued as long as necessary, even if it means continued damage to the economy,” Stremikis said. “It’s especially noteworthy that Californians with low incomes are even more likely to put public health first, even though they are the ones most likely to be affected by the economic fallout.”

Across all demographic markers in the survey — age, income, and racial/ethnic groups — more than 70% of residents say they support continuation of the shelter-in-place policy.

At least 86% of both Black and Asian Californians say the same, according to the poll.

In Los Angeles, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is now the leading cause of death in the county.

Ferrer said hiring health investigators to conduct contact tracing — a method of tracking the spread of the virus — will help officials distribute resources more efficiently and identify infection hotspots more quickly.

Pollsters asked residents how comfortable they are with sharing personal information about their health or movement within their communities. They found 59% of Californians say they are willing to share personal information to fight the pandemic.

Just over one in five, 22%, are unwilling to share their personal information under any circumstances while 18% had no opinion on the issue, the poll found.

About one fourth of Californians with low incomes, 26%, had no opinion about sharing their personal information.

Sixty-nine percent of people 65 and older told pollsters they’re willing to share personal information while only 44% of residents aged 18 to 24 said the same, according to the poll.

The margin of error for the poll results is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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