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Utahns are more worried about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy than public health

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While Utahns still worry more about how the coronavirus affects the economy rather than public health, with new virus cases running high in Utah that pro-open-up sentiment is not as strong as it was last April, a new poll finds. (Photo: KUTV)

While Utahns still worry more about how the coronavirus affects the economy rather than public health, with new virus cases running high in Utah that pro-open-up sentiment is not as strong as it was last April, a new poll finds.

In a survey for UtahPolicy.com and KUTV 2News, Y2 Analytics finds that 45% of Utah voters say they worry more about public health with the pandemic virus, while 55% say they worry more about the how the virus affects the economy.

But back in April, asked the same question, 40% said they worried more about public health while 60% said the economy.

Back then Utah was basically shut down, a lot of folks out of work, and the virus appeared to be on its way to being controlled.

In May, Gov. Gary Herbert and local health departments and government officials were pushing to open up the economy more.

But now in June Utah’s coronavirus cases have shot up -- more than doubling daily numbers -- and Utahns seem to be worrying more about public health these days, the new survey shows.

There are big differences between how men and women feel about the public-health v. economy question, differences also seen by one’s partisan political leanings, Y2 finds.

Only 37% of men say they worry more about public health than the economy, but 51% of women worry more about the health of people. That 14-percentage-point difference is statistically significant.

“Strong” Republicans don’t worry much at all about public health -- just 15% say it is their main concern. While 85% of “strong” Republicans say they worry more about the economy than people.

This is one reason, perhaps, that back in April in a special session, the GOP-controlled Legislature pushed Herbert to more quickly open up businesses, trying to get people back to work.

That’s happening now, but it’s detrimental to the state’s overall coronavirus fighting effort, the daily infection reports show.

Political independents worry more about people’s health, 55-45%.

And Democrats feelings on this question is just about opposite than Republicans’ -- 89 percent of Democrats say they worry most about public health, while only 11% of them say they worry more about the economy.

Those who said they are “very active” members of the LDS Church -- which saw church meetings canceled, along with temple work -- are about split on the issue -- 48% saying they worry more about public health, and 52% saying they worry more about the economy.

Finally, it appears younger Americans are less likely to have severe problems with the virus, should they catch it, than senior citizens. Most of the 167 deaths in Utah come in older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

Yet Y2 finds that 56% of those 18-to-34 years old worry more about public health than the economy -- even though many younger adults may feel the economic impacts of the virus.

And 54% of those 65 years and older say they worry more about the economy than about public health, even if they are more likely to get really sick or die from the virus than younger folks.

The survey was conducted by Y2 Analytics from June 9-17, 2020, among 1,188 likely Utah voters. It has a margin of error +/- 2.9 percentage points.

KUTV 2News is partnering with Utah Policy.com and Y2 Analytics and will be providing polling results on a regular basis throughout the election season. You can sign up for UtahPolicy.com’s daily email newsletter here.


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