As states reopen businesses, most Americans think it's too soon to end coronavirus shutdowns, the new IBD/TIPP Poll finds. Just 15% think governors should ease social distancing rules and allow businesses to reopen by May 1. Yet governors in more than half the states are beginning to partially reopen.
By May 15, 34% of IBD/TIPP Poll respondents think their states will be ready to reopen businesses, while 49% think state repopenings should wait until June 1 or beyond. Others were unsure.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken by far the biggest toll in the Northeast. New York City has been the epicenter, and urban areas appear to have generally been more exposed. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the IBD/TIPP Poll finds broad agreement, regardless of geographical differences.
Here are the regional splits between those who back opening by May 15 vs. those who see states reopening by June 1 or later as more optimal: Northeast (27%-56%); Midwest (38%-46%); South (36%-47%); and West (33%-49%).
Urban areas leaned against their state reopening by mid-May, 35%-49%. A similar divide was evident in the suburbs (37%-49%) and rural areas (28%-47%).
Among the different age groups, young adults stood out for being ready to open by mid-May, 46%-40%. Other age groups were firmly behind their state reopening by June 1 or later, with an average 32%-50% split.
What About Partial State Reopenings?
Polling about states reopening businesses from coronavirus shutdowns is challenging, because there are so many shades of gray. Several states are moving toward reopening manufacturing, which doesn't have to worry about customer interactions. Some states are reopening nonessential retail stores, while others are only letting such retailers offer curbside pickup. Georgia is among the few states allowing restaurants and barbershops to reopen. No states are allowing big live events. Schools are still closed. Some Americans who think their state reopening should wait may be OK with a partial reopening.
Still, the question helps get at the bigger issue: How comfortable are Americans getting back to their normal lives? As states reopen, that question looms large for the economic recovery from the coronavirus recession.
Once States Reopen, What Activities Will Americans Do?
Another IBD/TIPP Poll question went deeper, asking which activities Americans will feel comfortable engaging in, once states reopen businesses. The answers point to a slow recovery initially, and possibly until there's a breakthrough treatment or vaccine.
Only 44% will be comfortable going to the doctor and 40% attending family gatherings.
As businesses reopen, their expectations should be low, based on the share of Americans who say they'll be comfortable going to a restaurant (35%), salon or barbershop (33%), movie theater (21%), or gym (19%). Just 15% think they'll be at ease on an airplane and 9% on a cruise.
Meanwhile, only 30% say they'll be comfortable going to their workplace.
Why Are People Scared Of Covid-19?
The IBD/TIPP Poll also asked another question that may help explain the depth of concern about Covid-19, even as the U.S. appears to be moving past the peak in daily deaths and new cases.
Do you or a member of your household have medical conditions? Half of respondents said "yes" and 39% "no."
Among rural residents, 56% have a household member with a medical condition.
The White House reopening plan advises the elderly and people with conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid-19 to continue to isolate in the initial stages of opening the economy. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 93 million Americans fall into those categories. If you add in other household members, the number of people who have extra reason to be cautious is significantly higher.
Support For Coronavirus Response
Still, as many states reopen, or move toward reopening, governors get high marks for their coronavirus response, the IBD/TIPP Poll finds. State governments have a 59% favorable rating, and local governments 57%. The White House coronavirus task force has a 46% approval rating and 28% disapproval.
Meanwhile, 41% approve of President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis and 39% disapprove. However, 52% of Americans say the Trump administration's early efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus were ineffective vs. 42% effective.
Congress has just a 36% approval rating for its coronavirus role.
The IBD/TIPP Poll for May included 1,225 responses collected via an online survey from April 26 to April 29.
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