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Poll Finds NYers Bracing For COVID Return This Fall

COVID-19 Diagram
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new poll finds New Yorkers are not optimistic about the fall, with the overwhelming majority saying they expect another COVID-19 outbreak in the coming months.

The rate of transmission of the virus in New York has been under 1% for over three weeks, but that has not calmed fears, according to the survey.

86% of those polled by the Siena College Research Institute are bracing for another wave of the coronavirus this fall and winter. Siena’s Don Levy says nearly two-thirds say they are not comfortable with K-12 schools, colleges and universities fully reopening this fall, and many are worried about partial reopening.

“By no means does the general public feel as though we’ve gotten this under control,” said Levy. "No way is this something we can speak about in the past tense." 

Many New Yorkers say they are unlikely to engage in a lot of indoor activities as the weather cools. Over half say they are wary of eating indoors at a restaurant, having a drink at a bar, watching a movie in a theater, working out at the gym, or going bowling. 

80% remain concerned that they or a family member will become ill.

Levy says there is some positive news in the survey, though. 51% say they have reconnected with family members or friends, 41% have begun a new hobby, 43% completed a home improvement project, and 13% have adopted a pet. But more say they have gained weight than have lost weight since the pandemic began. Nearly one-quarter say they are drinking more alcohol than they did before the shutdown.

"That's especially true amongst New Yorkers between the ages of 35 and 49 where almost 40% of that group say that they've been drinking more alcohol than usual during the pandemic," Levy said. 

Despite the worries and hardships related to the pandemic, the majority believe safety protections are more important right now than fully reopening the economy, and three-quarters of those surveyed say they wear a mask when out in public.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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