COVID reports: NJ residents support more restrictions
Support is widespread in New Jersey for additional restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic but at the same time, Garden Staters themselves are becoming less likely to practice protocols that are meant to reduce the spread of the virus.
That's according to a pair of state-by-state reports from a group that's been tracking public opinion and behavior related to COVID-19 since the spring.
When asked about potential restrictions, close to 90% of New Jersey residents surveyed in November said they'd somewhat or strongly approve of asking people to stay home and avoid gathering in groups. Eighty-four percent were on board with cancelling major sports and entertainment events. At least 70% expressed approval for limiting restaurants to carry-out only, as well prohibiting in-person teaching of K-12 students.
The potential measure that received the least support in New Jersey (59.5%) was the closing of non-essential businesses, according to one of the reports.
"More than half of the people support all of the measures that we talked about," said Rutgers researcher Katherine Ogynanova. "So this should be more comforting to a local government when they're thinking about imposing such measures over the next few months while we're still struggling with extremely high levels of COVID-19 in the country."
Rutgers is among a handful of universities involved in The COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public's Policy Preferences Across States.
The consortium's data show that many New Jerseyans have let their guard down in some way since the pandemic first took hold of the state in March. In the spring, 86% of New Jerseyans said they practiced social distancing. In the fall, that figure dropped to 57%. New Jersey also recorded drops in percentages related to avoiding crowded places, disinfecting surfaces and washing hands.
"The one behavior that people started doing more of is wearing their face mask when leaving their house," Ognyanova said.
The data also recorded minor upticks in New Jerseyans' willingness in the fall to go to restaurants or bars, the gym, church, or events with people outside their household, compared to summer.
Based on fall findings, New Jersey ranks 7th among the states for mask-wearing and 14th for social distancing, the consortium reported.