New COVID-19 Poll Shows Optimism Returning
A scientific poll released today by the Tampa Bay Partnership reveals that Tampa Bay residents are optimistic about the region’s recovery from the pandemic, but hesitancy toward the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly among Black residents and young residents, could jeopardize community protection and a safe return to pre-pandemic activities.
Forty-four percent of Tampa Bay residents believe the COVID-19 situation is “near the end,” and 52% believe it will improve in the next 60 days. More than half of all residents now feel comfortable engaging in common activities such as visiting close friends and family at home (71%), going to the grocery store (70%), going to a public beach or park (65%), going to work (62%), shopping at the mall or retail stores (59%), eating out in a restaurant (57%), staying in a hotel (54%), going to a hair or nail salon (53%), attending outdoor concerts or sporting events (52%), and sending their children to school (52%). But in every category, residents who are unlikely to be vaccinated are significantly more likely to be “very comfortable” engaging in these activities than those who have already been vaccinated.
A growing number of residents have either received, or are planning to receive, the COVID-19 vaccination (76% compared to 69% in late January), but 43% percent of Black residents and 36% of 18-34-year-old residents are “not likely” to get vaccinated, compared to 24% of residents overall. Among the Tampa Bay residents unlikely to get vaccinated, concerns about the vaccine’s side effects (63%) and a need for more information (47%) were cited as the primary reasons.
If new COVID-19 variants led to another surge in cases, Tampa Bay residents would be most supportive of individual virus mitigation tactics, such as requiring the use of face masks (66%) and social distancing (61%) in public spaces, but residents show minimal support for closures of any kind, including schools (35%), businesses (34%) or public parks and beaches (27%).
“With widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the end of the pandemic feels closer than ever, and residents are clearly seeking a return to pre-pandemic ‘normalcy.’ But this data should signal to our elected officials and community leaders that we need to reach out more effectively to certain segments of our population to increase adoption of the vaccine and prevent future spread,” said Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
- Tampa Mayor Jane Castor continues to receive the highest positive ratings among federal, state and local elected officials for her handling of the pandemic (44%), followed by President Joe Biden (41%) and Governor Ron DeSantis (37%).
- In the past year, 31% of Tampa Bay residents were laid off/let go or temporarily furloughed due to COVID-19, and among those residents, only 40% either found a new job or returned to their old job.
- Tampa Bay residents have become substantially more approving of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Florida, with 40% rating the process as “excellent” or “very good” (compared to just 15% in late January).
- Fifty-four percent of Hispanic/Latino residents personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died due to COVID-19, compared to 45% of all residents.
- Tampa Bay residents are very likely to continue engaging in hygiene-related virus mitigation tactics even after the COVID-19 situation has passed, including frequently washing hands (68%), using hand sanitizer (55%) and maintaining a physical distance from others (42%).
The COVID-19 Tampa Bay Sentiment Survey is produced by the Tampa Bay Partnership, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, United Way Suncoast and USF Muma College of Business, as part of the State of the Region initiative. Downs & St. Germain Research of Tallahassee surveyed a demographically representative group of 384 adult residents in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties on March 31-April 1, 2021. The survey has a 95 percent confidence interval with a 5 percent margin of error. This is the seventh such survey tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the region. Results from the first survey, conducted April 1-2, 2020, can be viewed here. Results from the second survey, conducted April 15-16, 2020, can be viewed here. Results from the third survey, conducted April 29-30, 2020, can be viewed here. Results from the fourth survey, conducted May 13-15, 2020, can be viewed here. Results from the fifth survey, conducted July 21-22, 2020, can be viewed here. Results from the sixth survey, conducted January 25-26, 2021, can be viewed here.
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About the Tampa Bay Partnership
The Tampa Bay Partnership is a coalition of regional business leaders, joined by a shared commitment to improving the personal and economic well-being of Tampa Bay residents. Formally incorporated in 1994, and re-established in 2016 as a regional research and public policy organization, the Partnership works with the region’s top employers, and a diverse group of government and nonprofit partners, to identify and address the toughest challenges facing our community, and create new opportunities for the future. For more information, visit www.tampabay.org.