WTOP coronavirus poll: End of tunnel in sight, despite furloughs, hour and pay cuts

Two medical workers wearing masks and face shields.
Medical professionals working at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by George Washington University Hospital in D.C. (Getty Images/Drew Angerer)
Boy riding bicycle.
A boy bikes past a sign next to a closed office building in Arlington’s Crystal City, where a majority of businesses have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AFP via Getty Images/ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)
Coronavirus testing site at FedEx Field
National Guard members stand by at a screening site in a parking lot at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Anadolu Agency)
Empty lanes of the Dulles Toll Road
Empty lanes of the Dulles Toll Road in Reston. (Courtesy Robert Curcio)
Two medical workers wearing masks and face shields.
Boy riding bicycle.
Coronavirus testing site at FedEx Field
Empty lanes of the Dulles Toll Road

Half of those polled in a new WTOP national poll conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies have been laid-off, furloughed, or had their salary or hours cut, but most believe their lives will return to normal within seven months.

“Thirteen percent of Americans see a personal impact of the virus outbreak lasting more than a year, while the vast majority — 69% — think the personal impact to them will be over in six months or less,” said Erin Norman, senior solutions consultant with the polling firm.

The national online poll of 1,000 people was conducted April 1 and April 2.

In the third week of its poll, a new question by Heart+Mind Strategies found that 50% of those polled have had substantial negative effects on their job, with 26% having been laid-off or furloughed and another 24% having had their salary or hours cut. 

The remaining half say they haven’t had any of those negative effects, so far.

Over half of Americans believe the U.S. should focus on the public health aspect of the coronavirus crisis first and foremost, while 38% believe the country should balance health and economic concerns.

“Republicans are significantly more likely to believe we need to be balancing health and economic issues, although it’s just 51%,” said Norman.

“Economic damage can have a similar impact on the life and health of Americans.”

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Thirty-three percent of self-identified Democrats believe economic considerations should be included, along with public health, in determining the nation’s path.

While most people believe the personal effects of the crisis will be resolved within six months, “We actually saw a one-point drop in the number of people who are describing themselves as hopeful, compared to last week,” Norman said.

“At the same time, we saw increases in the number of people who said they feel angry, scared, or worried.”

The “stay-at-home” mantra — while restrictive — has some upsides, according to the poll.

“Forty-five percent say it’s having a positive impact on their relationship with their children — that’s up 13 points from last week, 40% are saying it has a positive impact on their relationship with their partner — up 11 points from last week,” said Norman.

In addition, approximately 10% noted improvement in their at-home activities and physical health.

After hitting a low-point last week, trust rose in a variety of institutions, including local (43%, +11), state (44%, +7) and the federal government (35%, +7).

The poll was an online quantitative survey. The surveyors say that if they were to estimate a margin of error, it would be +/- 3.1% at 95% confidence.

A previous national online poll of 1,006 interviewees, produced by Heart+Mind Strategies for WTOP between March 25 and March 26, showed 49% of Americans believe the coronavirus pandemic is bringing people closer together versus driving people apart.

Among other topics and issues, Heart+Mind Strategies has previously conducted polls in D.C., Maryland and Virginia for WTOP on the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on the global economy and peoples’ daily routines.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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