The majority of people in the Capital region remain concerned about the coronavirus. And if you're in a family with children, you're likely experiencing struggles or even a crisis. Those are just some of the findings in the latest poll by Sacramento non-profit Valley Vision and CapRadio.
This is the second poll looking at how residents of the Sacramento region were experiencing and coping with the coronavirus pandemic. In May, results suggested residents experience the pandemic differently depending on their racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, among other main findings.
Last month, Valley Vision went back out into the field to conduct a second poll to discover how people’s experiences and attitudes may have changed four months later.
Insight Host Randol White spoke with Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt about the new poll and its findings. Here are highlights from their conversation. Hear the full conversation Monday morning on Insight.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On why Valley Vision conducted a follow-up poll to the one conducted in May
We were able to get our first survey out into the field in May, and so we got a very specific point of view about what was happening with people really early in shelter-in-place and as the reality of COVID was hitting everybody. And then we were just out in the field in September. And we've all lived it, so we all know that there was a lot of change between May and September. And then we plan on going back out into the field again in early 2021.
We think this really enables us to get a really good sense of what's going on for people and how different entities can react and how we can all pull together and make sure that we're creating the right programs and investments and adapting in the ways that we need to, that respond to the real needs that people have.
On whether the poll included questions about recent hot topics, such as social justice
We did ask specifically about, have people's views about social justice changed as a result of all that has happened? And we found that there was a very political lens to that, but in fact, yes, you know, the answer is yes. People's views about social justice have changed. And across all groups, it really has become a more important part of how they think about things.
And there was one question that we asked that was about, do you think we need to stay focused on intervening in COVID-19, or do you think basically we need to go back to normal? And for people who felt that we needed to stay focused on COVID-19, they were more likely to have shifting views about social justice and have that be an increasingly important part of how they're thinking about it.
On whether people are still concerned about COVID
We have found that people do remain concerned about it, especially about contracting it themselves or their loved ones contracting COVID. And one of the themes that came across in our first survey, and we see it even more deeply now, is that people of color are more concerned about this. So we see that just in general, in terms of people's concern about getting the virus.
We also see it about their view on their risk of getting the virus in the course of doing their work. So that's something that we asked about in May and we asked again. And we found that particularly people of color were more concerned about contracting the virus at work.
On issues for children and families
Because the survey was in the field in September, that was a really top of mind for us because so many kids were going back to school, but remotely. So we really dove into a lot of questions about kids and how people are being impacted by that. And we found when we asked the question, ‘How challenging is it to have your kids at home?’ in May, we found that the majority of the people found it to be moderately challenging.
In September, we found that that finding went from one extreme or another. So more people were being very challenged and also more people were being not very challenged and fewer people were kind of in that middle moderate category.
So one of the ways we interpreted that was that some people have a greater ability to kind of get the systems in place that they need to make it less challenging. So that might mean reducing or dropping out of the workforce for one of the parents. It might mean hiring help. There's a variety of ways that people might have the resources to make it less challenging and so maybe people have had more time to make that happen.
Another thing that we saw is that women were much more likely to rate it as very challenging to have their kids at home. In fact, almost four times as likely as men. So one thing I might extrapolate from that is a lot of the schooling might be kind of in the realm of what women are doing more than men.
On what the poll found regarding substance abuse and mental health
We asked about that in May and we asked again in September, and we found that a lot of those factors have gotten worse. So people were concerned about it in May. They're more concerned about it now. And I would say the same thing when it comes to anxiety and stress. Those are questions we asked about. And those numbers remain really kind of alarmingly high.
We also asked about physical and emotional harm at home, so really domestic violence. And we find that to be a significant issue, as well as concerns about the well-being of the children in the household. So really some very sobering findings around all of those issues and really showing that people are being really, really worn down.
And again, there is a disparity in the effects here. So Black respondents and Hispanic respondents, much higher degrees of concern across all these measures, you know, whether it's mental health or substance use or the domestic violence in the house.
Editor's note: The poll was a partnership between CapRadio and Valley Vision, and administered by Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research.
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