USF survey gauges public opinion on handling of Covid-19 – CBS Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Researchers from the University of South Florida and Florida International University published new findings on a national survey measuring public opinion on a variety of current political issues. With the recent increase in omicron cases, the group has focused on topics related to Covid-19, vaccine mandates and how opinions are changing.

“Looking at the presidential endorsement on Covid-19 and a host of other issues, the proposed executive order that would be a workplace mandate, we hear a lot from public health officials about the possibility of a mandate domestic air transport”, mentioned Dr. Stephen Neely, associate professor and researcher behind the study at the University of South Florida. He says a major driving force is understanding what the public thinks about these issues so that policy makers can take them into account. “It’s about giving the public a voice,” he said.

Key takeaways from this research include how the pandemic is perceived.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been highly politicized. We have people who view Covid-19 more as a political issue than a public health issue and we need to understand this in order to craft the appropriate message,” and a resurgence worrying, he tells me, amid the omicron variant outbreak over the holidays. “We see around a third of respondents saying this is the most important issue facing the country today. This is double the second most important issue which was the economy, where around 15% of people said this.

Consequently, in a Spring 2021 survey by United Way of Florida, 85% of respondents said contracting Covid-19 was a concern while 62% followed with concerns about paying housing expenses like rent/mortgage and utilities.

According to USF research, when asked if they felt the worst was behind us regarding Covid-19, 26% agreed and said “yes,” while 43% answered “no”. “And that means it’s really sparked renewed pessimism among many Americans about whether or not we’re getting ahead of the pandemic and starting to put it behind us,” Neely said.

He says partisan differences also seem to be becoming more entrenched.

“Not only do we see Democrats and Republicans taking different positions, but they are strong in those positions,” he said. “When we asked about the president’s proposed workplace mandate, we see 88% of Democrats say they agree compared to just 22% of Republicans. And about a third of Americans in each direction say their opinion is very strong.

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