COVID-19 Survey: NJ Residents More Careful, Not as Eager to Reopen Economy
Residents of New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, are more on board with waiting several weeks before "reopening the economy" than residents in nearly every other state in the country.
In a 50-state survey conducted in part by Rutgers University, only 6% of New Jersey respondents said the country should immediately reopen the economy and resume business activity. A plurality of Garden State residents (33%) said this shouldn't occur for more than eight weeks. Twenty percent said six to eight weeks.
Only in Hawaii did a greater share of surveyed residents suggest widespread closures should last at least six or eight weeks.
Nearly 23,000 people were surveyed nationwide between and April 17 and April 26, around the time that hospitalizations in New Jersey hit their peak. Researchers sought to get a better handle on the consequences faced by Americans during this pandemic, where they get their information, and how much they trust the professionals and elected officials charged with battling the crisis.
"We are trying to produce information on a state-by-state level, and we're going to be doing this continuously. So this is not a one-off," said Katherine Ognyanova, an assistant professor of communication at the Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information.
Close to two thirds of New Jerseyans in the survey said the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their life "a lot" or "a great deal." More than half fear a relative will contract the respiratory illness, but just 39% have the same concern regarding themselves.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had recorded the second-highest number of positive COVID-19 tests in the nation (130,953). Coronavirus-related deaths total more than 8,200.
"They're seeing more cases around here, but they're also much more careful and kind of following the guidelines," Ognyanova said.
More than any other state, 78% of New Jerseyans said they "very closely" follow the health recommendation to wear a face mask when outside their home. The state also ranked highly on the practice of other protection measures such as keeping a safe distance from others, washing hands and disinfecting surfaces.
Just like residents in every other state, respondents in New Jersey said they put more trust in hospitals and doctors, and the CDC, to do the right thing during this crisis than Congress, President Donald Trump or local and state government.
"From my end, it's kind of an exciting finding that the people are turning to science and medicine, and not other places, to seek a solution to this crisis," Ognyanova said.