Poll Shows Majority of Residents are Concerned State Will Face Large COVID Outbreak in the Fall

John Jordan | September 2020

LOUDONVILLE, NY—A newly released survey reveals that New Yorkers have deep concerns about the coronavirus in terms of a potential second wave this fall as well as how local school districts and colleges are currently reopening.

A poll released today (Sept. 2) by the Siena College Research Institute found that a little over half of state residents (51%, down from 62% two months ago) think the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is still to come while 34%, up from 27%, think the worst is over.

Eighty-six percent of respondents are somewhat or very concerned that New York will face another large outbreak of COVID-19 in the fall, and 80%, virtually unchanged from 78% in late June, are concerned that they or another member of their household will get sick with the virus.

In terms of school openings, 62% of New Yorkers say completely opening schools runs too great a risk of spreading the disease. A total of 32% said that we have to bring the children back to school and do our best to mitigate the risks. By 66%-27%, New Yorkers say colleges should only deliver remote education and not bring students back to campus for the fall semester.

Given three general approaches to public schools in the fall, 46% are in favor of keeping schools closed for now and providing remote instruction as best as teachers can to all students, 33% prefer providing instruction using a hybrid model where only some students come in each day and many students receive instruction some or all day online whether in the school building or at home, and 18% call to open schools for in person instruction for all students with precautions like social distancing and masks in place.

“As schools across New York grapple with whether to or how to open in the fall, by nearly two to one, New Yorkers say completely opening schools runs too great a risk,” according to SCRI Director, Don Levy. “Despite recognizing how hard not opening is on kids and their families, only a third say that the negative effect on students is too great and that we have to bring the children back to school.”

Levy continued, “Offered a middle ground, the hybrid model in which only some students come in each day, class size is limited and online instruction is part of the education process, one-third of New Yorkers support a hybrid approach. But even with the option of schools using a hybrid approach, 46% still support keeping the schools closed for now and providing remote instruction as best as teachers can to all students.”

In terms of college openings, two-thirds of all New Yorkers, 70% of women, 72% of those 18-34 years of age, 73% of Democrats and a majority, 53%, of Republicans say that colleges should only deliver remote education and not bring students back to campus, Levy noted.

The survey did not have good news for retailers, gym and theater operators, large majorities of survey respondents are not comfortable with participating in five of six indoor activities. Fifty-eight percent are not comfortable with dining indoors in a restaurant, 72% with having a drink at a bar, 70% with working out at a gym, 73% with watching a movie at a theater and 65% with going to a bowling alley. New Yorkers are more comfortable with visiting a museum with 45% saying they are comfortable and 47% saying that they are not.

The SCRI special Coronavirus Poll was conducted August 20 – 27, 2020 by random telephone calls to 343 New York adults via landline and cell phones and 402 responses drawn from a proprietary panel of New Yorkers.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth