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Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director Ashley Koning.

New Jersey residents feel recovery paced right, poll says

Most residents still more concerned with virus than swift reopening

By Nikita Biryukov, May 12 2020 10:41 am

Two thirds of the state’s residents feel the state is moving towards reopening its economy at the right pace, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Tuesday.

Those who believe the state is reopening too slowly were the smallest group with 16%, while Those who believed the state was reopening too quickly accounted for 19% of respondents.

“Perceptions on the pace at which New Jersey is moving to reopen and when normalcy will return are divided by familiar partisan lines,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “While a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike agree with the speed of the state’s approach to reopen, Democrats do so to a far greater degree than their counterparts. Independents and Republicans are also more hopeful than Democrats when it comes to how long they think it will take before restrictions are loosened and life returns to normal.”

Half of the state’s residents believe New Jersey will begin lifting restrictions and reopening businesses by June 1, with 12% saying officials will move sometime in May and 38% saying they expect restrictions to be eased by June 1.

Another 26% say they expect Gov. Phil Murphy to pull back some limits imposed on businesses and others by July 1.

Still, New Jerseyans aren’t confident that the state is headed back to a state of normalcy.

Just a third of respondents told pollsters that the state will return to normal by July 1.

Seventeen percent said they expected a return to normalcy by the end of the summer, and 18% said the same would happen by the end of the year.

A quarter of residents said they expected the return to a pre-COVID-19 reality would take even longer.

Most New Jerseyans remain concerned about contracting the virus.

Large pluralities said they were very worried, 41%, or someone worried, 38%, that they or someone they live with would contract the virus. Similar numbers, 41% and 35%, reported worrying about being prepared if someone in their household contracted the virus.

The state’s residents are still under a great deal of financial strain. Nearly six-tenths of residents said they were worried about being laid off or having their pay or hours cut, with 35% saying the possibilities were very concerning and 23% saying they were somewhat concerning.

A similar number of residents reported they were worried about meeting their monthly bills, with 29% saying they were very worried and 31% saying they were only somewhat worried.

Fully 81% of residents reported concern over local hospitals running out of beds, personal protective equipment and other materials needed to respond to the crisis.

A staggering 92% of residents fear local businesses will close permanently because of losses fueled by the pandemic.

“The degree to which some groups worry more than others about the outbreak’s various ramifications are stark,” Koning said. “Worry over the coronavirus itself, job or pay loss, finances, and local hospitals having proper equipment is much higher among black and Hispanic residents than white residents – often by double digits – as well as lower-income residents compared to those in higher income brackets.”

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