LSU Survey: More than a Third of Louisiana Residents Know COVID-19 Patient, Have Anxieties about Economy and Health, Cautious As Phase 2 Begins

June 8, 2020

BATON ROUGE—Researchers at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found that as Louisiana moves to reopen parts of its economy, Louisiana residents are moving more frequently in their communities, have anxieties about public health and the economy but remain cautious in beginning to re-engage with many economic activities.

Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, and Martin Johnson, Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication and dean of the Manship School, conducted the survey with Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov, re-interviewing 757 Louisiana residents age 18 or older from across the state, May 20-June 1. Each respondent was previously interviewed April 15-28.

“This survey shows just how widespread the pandemic’s impact has been on the physical and mental health as well as the economic well-being of residents of Louisiana,” Henderson said. “Many remain concerned about these impacts and are approaching the reopening of the state cautiously.”

The survey’s main findings include:

  • A large percentage of Louisiana residents know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (42 percent) and 23 percent know someone who has died from complications related to the disease. However, the data also show the disparities between Black and White Louisianans on exposure to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Approximately half of Black Louisiana residents (49 percent) know someone who tested positive for the disease, while 39 percent of White residents do. Forty percent of Black residents know someone who has died from complications related to COVID-19; the share among White respondents is 17 percent.
  • Louisiana residents were more likely to leave their homes in the end of May with the governor’s relaxation of the stay-at-home order and the implementation of Phase 1: 71 percent of state residents in this more recent data say they have stayed home instead of going to work, school or other regular activities during the previous two weeks. In the Manship School’s April survey, 81 percent of the same respondents said they had stayed home during the pandemic. As more Louisiana residents leave their homes, they are more frequently wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth when outside the home. The combined share of respondents who say they either always or very often wear face coverings when outside the home (62 percent) is an increase from April when only 48 percent said they wore a face covering very often or always.
  • Louisiana residents are uncomfortable with many activities outside the home. A majority of state residents say, at this time, they are uncomfortable getting on an airplane (77 percent), going to a large sports or entertainment event (75 percent), eating out at a restaurant (60 percent), going to a barber shop or hair salon (56 percent), and going to a retail clothing store (54 percent). At the same time, a majority of state residents are comfortable going to a grocery store (67 percent), going to parks (63 percent) and visiting friends (58 percent).
  • The survey does show more pronounced partisan differences on reopening the economy than Henderson and Johnson found in April. In the current data from May, most Democrats (89 percent) support continuing restrictions even at an economic cost, while most Republicans (68 percent) support easing restrictions for the sake of the economy even if it comes at a health cost.

The survey was funded by philanthropic support from the Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication Johnson holds. Henderson and Johnson developed the survey instrument, replicating some items from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s national polling on the spread of coronavirus.

See the full survey results.

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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in Media and Public Affairs, certificate of Strategic Communication and dual MMC/Law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.

LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL) is a research center dedicated to high quality, state-of-the-art survey research. A joint effort of the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs and the LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, PPRL has advanced both practical and scholarly research for nearly 20 years.