COVID-19 Tracking Poll: Many Say California Reopening Too Quickly, Worry Cases Will Increase


Previous Poll Results

Get all the results from CHCF’s surveys of California’s health care providers and the general public in this collection.

To help Californians and state policymakers understand evolving demands on the state’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, CHCF is working with survey firms on two fronts. CHCF and global survey firm Ipsos are assessing residents’ desire for COVID-19 testing and their access to health care services. CHCF and Truth on Call, a physician market-research firm, are surveying different types of health care providers about availability of testing, personal protective equipment, and their experience in California’s health care delivery system. Download the charts and data for your own presentations and analyses.

June 19, 2020 — It’s been a month since most California counties began reopening after sheltering in place, and 43% of residents think the rules are being relaxed “too quickly,” according to the latest tracking poll from CHCF and survey firm Ipsos.

Thirty-five percent say the pace is “just right,” and 21% think the order is being relaxed “too slowly.” Responses varied significantly along ideological and socioeconomic lines. Sixty percent of people who identify as “liberal” say the pace is too fast compared to 23% of those who identify as “conservative.” Forty-three percent of conservative Californians say the pace is too slow.

One-half of Californians with low incomes say the shelter-in-place order is being relaxed too quickly.

Two-thirds of Californians are worried that COVID-19 infections will increase as local shelter-in-place orders are relaxed. Differences along ideological lines are particularly pronounced, with 53% of liberals saying they are “very worried” compared to 19% of conservatives.

More than three-quarters of state residents would support a new shelter-in-place order in their county if health officials determined COVID-19 cases were rising to a dangerous level. More than twice as many liberals (69%) would strongly support a new shelter-in-place order as conservatives (33%).

Californians were asked how soon they think they would resume certain activities “assuming the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds as you expect.” Twenty-eight percent say they already are visiting friends and relatives without staying six feet apart, and 22% expect to do that this summer. Twenty-six percent say they will do so in the next 3 to 12 months.

Thirty percent say they are already going to the dentist for a routine cleaning or expect to do so this summer. Likewise, 39% of Californians have already visited or expect soon to visit a doctor’s office for a nonurgent appointment.

A significant segment of Californians believes it will take much longer to resume other activities, while many express uncertainty about timing. Fourteen percent say they won’t use public transportation for at least a year, and 19% say they will never use it again. (The survey did not ask how many had never used public transportation in the past.) Sixteen percent say they will not visit family members or friends in a nursing home for the next year or more, and 8% say they never will again. A significant percentage of people don’t know when they will resume either activity.

Four months into efforts to contain COVID-19, significant majorities of Californians continue to say they follow recommended behaviors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, although compliance for some behaviors has changed since we first asked in April.

Seventy-two percent say they avoid unnecessary trips out of the home “all” or “most of the time,” about 16 percentage points lower than when we first asked two months ago.

In regard to other public health behaviors:

  • 84% of Californians say they routinely wear a mask in public spaces all or most of the time, about seven percentage points higher than in late April.
  • 90% say they stay at least six feet away from others in public spaces all or most of the time.
  • 91% say they frequently wash their hands with soap and water all or most of the time.

Consistent with the poll two weeks ago, 7% of Californians say they have been tested for COVID-19 in the past week, and this week 9% said they would like the test. As in previous rounds of the tracking poll, the majority of Californians say they don’t think they need to get tested, and few Californians report trying and failing to get a COVID-19 test.

The share of Californians seeing a health care provider in person rose this week to 12% from 9.5% two weeks ago. There has been a five-fold increase in the rate of Californians with low incomes who say they had an appointment by phone or video in the last seven days since the first time we asked this question in late March.

One-third of Californians say they have “taken extra steps to improve their mental health” since the statewide shelter-in-place order began in mid-March. More Black and Latino Californians report taking extra steps than other groups. Of those who have taken action, the most common activities are:

  • Exercise: 68%
  • Spending time with family or friends: 57%
  • Religious or spiritual practice: 33%

Fourteen percent of those who took extra steps to improve their mental health have sought counseling by phone or video, and just over 2% have sought counseling in person.

Methodology: This survey was conducted online in Ipsos’s Omnibus using the web-enabled “KnowledgePanel,” a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the California general population, not just the online population. It was conducted in English. The study consisted of 1,169 representative interviews conducted among California residents who are at least 18 years old between June 12, 2020, and June 16, 2020. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.

More from the CHCF Blog