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Published September 18, 2020
Wyoming residents are increasingly comfortable attending outdoor public events and less concerned about the spread of COVID-19, but a strong majority say they still wear face protection in indoor public places, according to a new survey by the University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC).
The survey was conducted Sept. 8, about a week before Wyoming hit all-time highs in the daily number of new confirmed cases of the infection.
Just 30.4 percent of Wyomingites say they’re very or fairly anxious about the spread of COVID-19 in the state, down 11.3 percent from the Aug. 10 survey. Likewise, those who are very or somewhat worried someone in their immediate family might catch COVID-19 dropped 8.6 points to 51 percent.
Regarding attendance at outdoor public events, 54 percent say they would be extremely or somewhat comfortable with groups of up to 250 people, with 52 percent extremely or somewhat comfortable with groups of over 250. Those percentages increased by 8 and 9 percentage points, respectively, from Aug. 10.
Additionally, the percentages of people who support state government policies to slow the spread of COVID-19 decreased across the board. Just 28.5 percent support closing K-12 schools, down 4.4 percent from Aug. 10; 26.4 percent support closing day care centers, down 5 percent; 26.4 percent support closing restaurants and bars, down 6.5 percent; and 19.9 percent support shelter-in-place orders, down 1.6 percent.
A slim majority, 51 percent, support state limits on public gatherings, but that’s down 7.7 percent from Aug. 10. And 52 percent still support local ordinances requiring people to wear face protection in indoor public places, but that’s down from 60 percent in August.
At the same time, 62 percent of Wyomingites say they always or often wear face protection in indoor public places, down just 4 percent from Aug. 10 and higher than the 48 percent figure recorded in mid-July.
“It is clear from these numbers that the level of discomfort and concern about COVID-19 declined between Aug. 10 and Sept. 8, but people are still doing things to avoid the virus -- such as wearing face protection, eating out less and washing their hands more frequently,” says Brian Harnisch, senior research scientist in charge of the project at WYSAC. “Still, it’s worth noting that the percentages of people taking those actions have declined.”
The survey is the eighth of multiple surveys WYSAC is conducting to measure public opinion on a number of topics related to COVID-19. A total of 503 Wyoming residents participated in the survey representing all Wyoming counties, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Other findings from the latest survey:
-- The percentages of people who think “the worst is behind us” (29.6 percent) and “the worst is yet to come” (31.9 percent) with COVID-19 in the U.S. are almost identical, with 20.8 percent unsure. In August, 42.3 percent thought the worst was yet to come.
-- Those who describe COVID-19 as a “real threat” stand at 45.2 percent, down 7.6 points from August, while 47.4 percent say it is “blown out of proportion,” up 8.3 percent.
-- Approval of the way Gov. Mark Gordon is handling the COVID-19 crisis remains high, with 67 percent saying they strongly approve or somewhat approve of the way he is handling things. Gordon’s net approval rating (approval minus disapproval) is at plus 37.6 percent.
-- Approval of the way President Donald Trump is handling the COVID-19 crisis has increased since July, with 56 percent saying they strongly approve or somewhat approve of the way he is handling things. President Trump’s net approval rating is at plus 18.1 points, up 16.1 points since July.
-- Regarding the way local government and health officials are handling the COVID-19 crisis, 63 percent say they strongly approve or somewhat approve of the way they are handling things.
-- Approval of the way Congress is handling the COVID-19 crisis remains low, with just 15 percent saying they strongly approve or somewhat approve of the way Congress is handling things and 76 percent saying they disapprove.
To see the survey methodology, chart, figures and complete survey results, go to https://wysac.uwyo.edu/wysac/.