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LSU professor Mike Henderson surveyed Louisiana residents on the risks of doing various activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Abbie Shull/LSU Manship School News Service)

Surveys find conflicted views on reopening

Two LSU professors released surveys Monday showing that Louisiana residents have conflicted feelings about the reopening of the state and the risks of various activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seventy-five percent of respondents reported feeling uncomfortable about attending large sports or entertainment events, and 77% were uncomfortable getting on an airplane. Sixty percent were nervous about eating in a restaurant, and 56% were reluctant to go to barber shops or hair salons.
However, the majority of the same respondents reported feeling comfortable with different social activities that many people did not stop doing during the pandemic. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported feeling comfortable going to grocery stores and 58% felt comfortable socializing with friends.
The survey also showed that 42% of Louisiana residents know someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 23% knew someone who died from the virus.
The survey also found a racial imbalance.
Forty-nine of black respondents reported knowing someone who tested positive for the virus, while only 39% percent of white respondents knew someone who tested positive. Forty percent of black respondents knew someone who had died from the virus, while only 17% of their white counterparts knew someone who died from it.
The survey also found that Louisiana residents were more likely to leave their homes once the state entered Phase 1 of the recovery on May 15 than they had been while under stay-at-home orders. But those totals only differed by 10%.
Eighty-one percent of the respondents in an initial survey, conducted April 15-28, said that they were staying at home then, compared to the 71% of the respondents in a second survey, conducted May 20 through June 1, who opted to stay home during Phase 1 instead of traveling to work or school.
The overall numbers from the second survey also highlighted partisan differences on opening up the state versus proceeding on the side of caution.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents who affiliated with the Democratic Party supported the continuance of cautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, while 68% of the respondents who affiliated with Republicans supported the opening of the state to spur the crippled economy.
Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School of Communication at LSU, and Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, conducted the survey. Their team interviewed 757 Louisiana residents of all ages in the first survey and then followed up with the same people as the state after the state entered the Phase 1 recovery period.
“This survey shows just how widespread the pandemic’s impact has been on the physical and mental health as well as the economic well-being of residents of Louisiana,” Henderson said. “Many remain concerned about these impacts and are approaching the reopening of the state cautiously.”

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