Pharmacist Emily Smith opens a cooler for a patient to place their self-swab coronavirus test at a Walmart drive-thru testing site in McKinney on June 29. Photo credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune
Texans remain focused on the coronavirus pandemic and are less optimistic about returning the state to normal quickly, according to polling by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.
Most Texas registered voters (57%) characterize the coronavirus as “a significant crisis,” while another 29% call it “a serious problem but not a crisis. That’s a shift from April, when a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found 66% calling it a significant crisis and 26% calling it a serious problem.
Their assessments of pandemic responses have soured. In the latest survey, 46% of voters say efforts to deal with the coronavirus in the U.S. are going well — down from 56% in April. Asked about the efforts in Texas, 47% say things are going well — down from 66% in April.
They’re also less optimistic about getting activities like social gatherings and sporting events back to normal. While 21% think that we’re already at the point where things can return to normal or will be in the next few weeks, 30% thought that was the case in April. Then, 41% thought things would be back to normal within the next few months; that’s fallen to 22%. Now, most think it will be back to normal in the next year (29%) or in a year or more (26%).
A large majority of voters (65%) say it would be unsafe to send their kids to school right now. Asked about vaccines, 59% say they would get a shot to prevent coronavirus if one were available at low cost, while 21% say they wouldn’t and 20% were unsure. Asked whether they think parents should be required to have their children vaccinated against infectious diseases, 75% say yes, 14% say no and 11% were either unsure or had no opinion.
Voters are a little less worried about the spread of the virus in their community — a percentage that stood at 47 in June and 55 in April. Likewise, 48% are “extremely” or “very” concerned about themselves or someone they know getting infected, down from 54% in April.
Three-fourths would agree to mandatory 14-day self-quarantine if notified they had come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. If contact tracing were in place, 71% say they would provide a list of people they’d been in contact with and 66% would agree to weekly testing to track the pandemic. But only 46% say they would provide access to their cellphone location data if they tested positive.
Most (74%) are confident they’d be able to get tested for coronavirus if they thought they needed to.
Texans report changes in their habits because of the pandemic. Almost one in five (19%) are “living normally, coming and going as usual,” up from 9% in April. Then, only 20% were leaving home “but being careful”; that has risen to 41%. And where 63% were “only leaving my residence when I absolutely have to” back in April, that has fallen now to 37%.
Four out of five Texans (81%) say they are wearing masks when in close contact with people outside of their households.
More (53%) prefer trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus even if it hurts the economy, while 38% would rather help the economy.
A third of voters say they’ve experienced education interruptions, either for themselves or for members of their families, and 28% say they’ve had losses of retirement or savings. Smaller but significant numbers of Texas voters have been unable to pay utility or other bills (16%), have lost their jobs (16%) or have been unable to pay rent or housing payments (12%).
Asked about a number of activities, voters were mostly likely to say these are unsafe:
Fly on an airplane (73%)
Go to protests or demonstrations (84%)
Attend a sporting event or concert in an indoor arena (79%)
Go to a bar or club (77%)
Go to a movie theater (73%)
Go to a gym or health club (71%)
Attend a sporting event or concert at an outdoor stadium (70%)
They have a list of “safe” activities, too:
Go to the grocery store (72%)
Get a haircut (59%)
Go to work (55%)
Vote in person (54%)
Stay in a hotel (50%)
More voters than not are still uncomfortable eating in restaurants, attending church, or going to the mall to shop.
Most voters (52%) approve of the way Gov. Greg Abbott is handling the economy, and 49% approve of the way he’s responding to the pandemic, down from 56% approval in the April poll.
Voters are more approving of their local government response to the pandemic (53%) than to the state (47%) or federal government (40%) responses. Health care professionals (75%) got the highest approval marks, while insurance companies (20%) got the lowest. Voters’ highest disapproval was directed at the news media (55%), followed by the federal (47%), state (44%) and local governments (39%). And while insurance companies got the fewest marks of approval, only 24% of voters disapprove of their response; the greatest number, 32%, neither approved nor disapproved.
So who do they rely on to respond? Other individuals (80%), family and friends (76%), local community (73%), state (71%), local (70%), and federal government and businesses (each at 66%).
The University of Texas/Texas Politics Project internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from June 19 to June 29 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83% percentage points.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.