Californians worry that shelter-in-place is relaxing too quickly: poll
A view of vacant downtown San Jose after shelter-in-place orders took effect. Photo by Ramona Giwargis.

As the number of hospitalizations from the novel coronavirus continues to soar, Californians are increasingly worried that the state is reopening too quickly, according to a new survey.

The poll, conducted between June 26 and June 30 by California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), surveyed 1,156 residents in the state who are at least 18 years old. The interviews, done in both English and Spanish, came just days before the Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered for the shutdown of indoor restaurants and bars.

According to a previous poll by CHCF, 43% of Californians found the state is easing its shelter-in-place “too quickly” in June. That number jumped to 53% within three weeks, the new poll shows. Twenty-seven percent said the state is doing “just right” and 18% thought it’s moving “too slowly” to reopen.

Nearly three-fourths of Black respondents believed the order is relaxing too quickly, while half of white and Latinx participants feel the same.

The opinions also split down party lines, with 73% of those who identify as liberals saying the state is moving too quickly reopening compared to only 32% of their conservative counterparts.

More Californians are worried that shelter-in-place order is being relaxed too quickly. Graphics courtesy of CHCF.

California began easing shelter-in-place order in May per Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order. By mid-June, the state had allowed counties to move deeply into phase 3 of reopening, which allows nail and hair salons, gyms and other large gatherings to resume. Santa Clara County on Tuesday gained approval from the state to reopen personal care businesses, a reversal from a decision to deny the county’s application a few days prior.

As of Sunday, the state recorded 5,700 patients in hospitals, an increase of 50 percent over the two weeks period. More than a quarter million Californians have contracted coronavirus, and other parts of the country have imposed a 14-day quarantine on people traveling from California.

Santa Clara County has been criticized by business leaders for its strict regulations on reopening, lagging behind most other parts of the state. The county recorded more than 5,400 cases as of this week and 165 deaths, though its hospitalization rate remains low with 88 COVID-19 patients and 35 cases in intensive care as of Tuesday.

While other counties, including neighboring San Mateo and Contra Costa, followed the state’s schedule, Santa Clara didn’t announce plans for reopening of personal care services until this month. The decision came two days after a group of local hair salon owners and stylists held a protest outside of the county’s health department and as nail salon owners planned their own demonstration on Facebook.

According to the poll, more than three out of four Californians are also worried that they –– or their family members ––– will contract the virus. The concern is greater among those with low incomes, with 54% of them reporting they’re “very concerned” and 27% being “somewhat concerned.”

Among all participants, 90% of Asians and 85% of Latinx residents, who have been disproportionately hit by the virus, are concerned about contracting COVID-19.

Seventy-seven percent of Californians say they are concerned of contracting COVID-19, according to the latest tracking poll by CHCF. Graphics courtesy of CHCF.

Of those who are required to return to work, a whooping 75% said they’re worried that their job will expose them ––and consequentially, their household members–– to the virus. Among those, 84% of Latinx respondents are at least “somewhat concerned” about exposing their family members compared to 59% of whites.

The poll results, which come with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, mirrors previous Santa Clara County-based polls published late May that show residents are most concerned with public health, even over the economy.

Eighty-four percent of Latinx who leave home for work are concerned about exposing their family members compared to 59% of their white counterparts. Graphics courtesy of CHCF.

Santa Clara nail shop owner Louie Pham, who’s been working on reopening plans directly with the county, said safety needs to come first.

“We want to open,” Pham said in an interview, adding that her shop has installed acrylic shields and stocked up on masks and gloves. “But we want to it safely.”

Read the full findings of poll here.

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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