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Monmouth polls finds Covid worries, support for mitigation policies decreasing

Just one-third of New Jersey adults support reinstating mask and distancing requirements

By Joey Fox, April 14 2022 11:00 am

With low Covid case rates across New Jersey and winter’s Omicron variant surge far in the rearview mirror, a Monmouth University poll released today indicates that Covid is no longer a top concern for many New Jerseyans. Correspondingly, the poll found that support for a variety of measures like mask and vaccine mandates has dropped significantly.

According to the poll of 802 New Jersey adults, 50% of respondents said that they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the prospect of a family member becoming seriously ill with Covid, down from the 62% of respondents who said that in Monmouth’s May 2021 poll. (Monmouth asked the same question in August and September of 2021, but it did so in a poll of registered voters, making the two numbers difficult to directly compare.)

Just 23% of respondents fell into the “very concerned” category, compared to 38% in the May poll. As in many previous Covid-related polls, Democrats indicated more concern than Republicans, with 65% of Democratic respondents saying they were very or somewhat concerned versus 28% of Republican respondents.

That cratering concern appears to have had a major impact on support for Covid mitigation policies.

Asked whether they supported reinstating the state’s masking and social distancing guidelines, only 34% of respondents said they did, while 64% said they didn’t. In Monmouth’s September poll – which, again, was of registered voters and not all adults – those numbers were flipped at 61% support, 36% opposed.

Once again, Republicans were far less likely to view Covid as a concern than Democrats, but support for mask policies was soft even among the latter. Republicans broke 16-84% in opposition to new masking and distancing requirements, while Democrats said they narrowly supported them 50-46%.

Also notable is that white respondents rejected a reinstatement of mandates 27-71%, versus a comparatively even 44-53% among respondents of color.

As for “requiring people to show proof of vaccination in order to go to work in an office or setting where they are around other people,” 45% of respondents said they would support such a (currently hypothetical) policy and 52% said they’d oppose it. This is the first time Monmouth has asked that question, so there’s no way of knowing how opinions have shifted.

“There’s a combination of factors at play here,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The Delta variant was not as bad as predicted while the Omicron surge made it seem as if infection was inescapable. New Jerseyans are willing to get boosted themselves, but that may be the best they can do against future waves.”

Accordingly, 80% of respondents said they’ve gotten at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, while 18% said they have not. 59% said they’ve already received a booster shot; more than half of those who have not said it’s “not at all likely” they’ll end up getting one.

The Monmouth University poll was conducted from March 31-April 4 with a sample size of 802 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

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