A majority of Californians support continuing to shelter in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new poll, despite protests by some residents ready to get back to work and restart the state’s previously booming economy.
About 71 percent of Californians polled by the California Health Care Foundation and survey firm Ipsos said they want to continue the statewide order to stay home and close the physical locations of many businesses, even if it hurts the economy.
The survey polled 1,146 adults representative of the overall population between May 1 and May 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. About 17 percent of respondents said they wanted the shelter in place orders to end, while 12 percent said they don’t have an opinion on the matter.
Those results come as local and state officials start slowly tweaking the stay-home orders to allow certain types of businesses to reopen under strict new guidelines around social distancing, cleaning and other new requirements.
Construction projects across the Bay Area were allowed to resume Monday after about a month at a stand-still due to a stringent shelter-in-place order issued by regional health leaders that halted most development projects.
Retailers around the state — though not in the Bay Area — started re-opening for curbside pickup Friday as Gov. Gavin Newsom loosened restrictions on certain retail stores if they complied with new safety rules.
The restrictions on retail did not loosen in the Bay Area, where regional health officials issued a revised shelter-in-place order last week that remains more restrictive than state guidelines in some ways. But on Friday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmember Dev Davis unveiled a proposal to allow restaurants and other retailers to offer outdoor service when local shelter-in-place restrictions are loosened.
The proposal would temporarily offer up parks, parklets and other public and private spaces for businesses trying to operate while complying with social distancing requirements.
“All this is in anticipation of protocols that may change and we expect will change,” Liccardo said Friday. “We simply want to be ready.”
Though the survey released Friday suggests a majority of Californians support staying home to curb the spread of the contagious virus, that number is notably down from two weeks ago.
The California Health Care Foundation and Ipsos reported on April 22 that 75 percent of Californians polled said they supported the stay-home orders and that 11 percent wanted to see the orders lifted.
More residents around the federal poverty line — a group that includes many essential workers disproportionately affected by coronavirus and the shelter-in-place order — continue to support the stay-at-home order, the data show.
But the approval of the shelter-in-place orders among people at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line is also slowly trending down.
As the shelter-in-place orders move into their eighth week, most Californians say their mental health has stayed “about the same,” but between 15 and 20 percent of respondents to the survey between March 31 and May 8 said they’re doing “a little worse.” Around 3 percent of respondents said their mental health has suffered more.
A growing number of respondents said they’re always using masks when in public.
Californians had gotten mixed messages about wearing face masks in public to protect against COVID-19, but state and Santa Clara County officials aligned on guidance in early April, recommending residents use non-medical, cloth face coverings when they go out for essential purposes, though it is not mandatory.
Some cities in the South Bay have made face coverings mandatory when visiting businesses. Though county health officials strongly urge residents to wear face coverings, Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s top health official, said she didn’t want to make the recommendation a law.
Still, she hopes wearing masks will become a “social norm” in the region.
“Our strategy here was to not make it a legally enforceable order — in other words, law enforcement can come and take action if you’re not complying with the order,” Cody said during an exclusive Q&A with San José Spotlight readers last month. “Law enforcement has a lot of priorities for enforcement and I didn’t want to take enforcement resources away from other things towards people wearing face coverings.”
Read the full California Health Care Foundation/Ipsos survey here.
Contact Janice Bitters at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.