OAKLAND, June 19, 2020 — One month after counties began lifting shelter-in-place restrictions across the state, many Californians (43%) think the rules are being relaxed “too quickly,” and significant numbers of residents (67%) are worried that COVID-19 infections will increase as the orders continue to be  relaxed — with significant splits emerging along ideological and socioeconomic lines, according to the latest tracking poll from the California Health Care Foundation and survey firm Ipsos.

The new survey, which polled 1,169 residents between June 12 and June 16, was conducted a few days before California Governor Gavin Newsom instituted a new requirement that Californians wear masks in public.

In the new CHCF poll, 35% of respondents said the pace of reopening was “just right,” and 21% said shelter-in-place orders are being relaxed “too slowly.” Responses varied significantly along ideological and socioeconomic lines: 60% of those who identify as “liberal” say the pace is too fast compared to 23% of those who identify as “conservative.” Meanwhile, 43% of conservative Californians say the pace is too slow.

One-half of Californians with low incomes say the shelter-in-place order is being relaxed too quickly, and two-thirds of Californians are worried that COVID-19 infections will increase as local shelter-in-place orders are relaxed. Differences along ideological lines are particularly pronounced, with 53% of liberals saying they are “very worried” compared to 19% of conservatives.

More than three-quarters of state residents would support a new shelter-in-place order in their county if health officials determined that COVID-19 cases were rising to a dangerous level. More than twice as many liberals (69%) would strongly support a new shelter-in-place order as conservatives (33%).

“One month into the reopening of the state’s economy, Californians are closely monitoring how quickly shelter-in-place orders are being relaxed — with many expressing concern about the pace of reopening and significant numbers worried about a resurgence of the virus,” says Kristof Stremikis, director of Market Analysis and Insight at the California Health Care Foundation.

“Likely due in part to these concerns, significant majorities are continuing to follow the recommended behaviors to slow the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and frequently washing hands with soap and water.”

In the new poll, Californians were asked how soon they think they would resume certain activities “assuming the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds as you expect:” 28% say they already are visiting friends and relatives without staying six feet apart, and 22% expect to do that this summer; 30% say they are already going to the dentist for a routine cleaning or expect to do so this summer; and 39% of Californians have already visited or expect soon to visit a doctor’s office for a nonurgent appointment.

A significant segment of Californians believes it will take much longer to resume other activities, while many express uncertainty about timing: 15% say they won’t use public transportation for at least a year, and 16% say they will not visit family members or friends in a nursing home for the next year or more.

Large majorities of respondents say they are continuing to follow recommended behaviors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with 72% saying they avoid unnecessary trips out of the home “all” or “most of the time” — compared to 88% two months ago. In regard to other public health behaviors:

  • 84% of Californians say they routinely wear a mask in public spaces all or most of the time, about seven percentage points higher than in late April.
  • 90% say they stay at least six feet away from others in public spaces all or most of the time.
  • 91% say they frequently wash their hands with soap and water all or most of the time.

The full CHCF poll can be found here: https://www.chcf.org/blog/covid-19-tracking-poll-many-say-california-reopening-too-quickly-worry-cases-will-increase/

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. www.chcf.org