UW Survey: Support for COVID-19 Policies is Declining

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A majority of Wyoming residents support most policies to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state, but that support continues to wane, according to a survey by the University of Wyoming’s Survey and Analysis Center released Thursday.

“While we do see majority support for all policies other than a ‘shelter-in-place’ order, support for all policies has declined steadily since we started collecting data in March,” said Brian Harnish, senior research scientist in charge of the project.

“Additionally, the only preventative measure that Wyomingites say they are taking that increased from two weeks ago is the use of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] such as masks and gloves, while nearly all other types of preventative behaviors showed a decrease from the last iteration,” Harnish said in a news release.

The center conducted its fourth survey on Monday with 473 residents participating in the survey representing all Wyoming counties. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Here are some of the findings:

Seventy percent of residents said they supported the closure of K-12 schools, a decline from 85% in March.

Likewise, 62% supported the closure of child care centers, down from 67% two weeks ago.

That decline also was seen in support of closing of bars and restaurants, which was 82% in March and now stands at 59%.

Likewise, the support of the “shelter in place” order declined from 54% at the end of March to 44% two weeks ago and now stands at 39%.

On the other hand, 51% of residents now say they wear personal protective equipmnent such as masks or gloves in public places, “representing the only increase in precautions taken by Wyoming residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The proportion of residents who say COVID-19 is a real threat remained steady at 54%, but those who say it is blown out of proportion increased four points to 40%, while those who are unsure decreased four points to 6%.

Twenty-three percent of Wyoming residents say that COVID-19 is not likely to be a major problem; 22% say that the worst is over; and 39% of residents say the worst is yet to come.

Residents who say they are not changing their daily routine has increased three percentage points from two weeks ago to 15%. Those who have changed their daily routine a lot has decreased five percentage points to 43%, while 42% say they have changed their routine a little.

More Wyoming residents, 23%, say they are very unlikely to get a vaccine for COVID-19 if one becomes available, an increase of four points. Twelve percent say it is somewhat unlikely, an increase of four points. On the other hand, nearly half, 49%, say they are very likely to get a vaccine, while 17% are somewhat likely to get a vaccine.

The statewide impact of the highly contagious coronavirus started on March 13 when Gov. Mark Gordon issued an executive order announcing a state of emergency and public heath emergency to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Since then, Gordon issued other orders about closing schools, restaurants, bars, salons and other establishments. He has been gradually relaxing those orders, many of which are scheduled to go into effect on Friday.

The UW survey found 74% of residents approve or somewhat approve of how Gordon has handled the crisis. His net approval rating — approval minus disapproval — remains high at plus 50 percentage points.

Likewise, approval of local government and health officials are handling the crisis remains high at 70%, but that has declined seven percentage points from two weeks ago.

Approval of how President Donald Trump is handing the crisis decreased slightly again, with 57% saying they strongly or somewhat approve of his actions.

Approval of Congress’s actions decreased seven percentage points, with 35% saying they strongly or somewhat approve of its actions.

To see the survey methodology, chart, figures and complete survey results, visit the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center’s website.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health reported 523 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases plus 165 probable cases and 480 recovered cases. The total number of deaths statewide remains at seven.

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