Most New York state residents believe the worst is over with the COVID-19 pandemic and many want to resume activities taken for granted prior to the crisis, like visiting family members or eating in a restaurant, a Siena College poll released Tuesday found.
Still, the poll also found New Yorkers were depressed by the events of the last year, and many remain concerned a family member will become ill with the coronavirus, while about half of residents are concerned there will be a surge in cases in the coming weeks. At the same time, many New Yorkers also expect some pandemic-related changes to continue on, including working remotely.
The poll comes as New Yorkers are attempting a return to normal this summer following the devastation of the last year that saw tens of thousands of deaths, and a spike in unemployment and economic hardship.
Vaccinations for COVID-19 are widely available for New Yorkers and positive cases and hospitalizations have dropped since the spring. But there are concerns that those who are not vaccinated stand the risk of contracting new, more contagious versions of the virus.
Restrictions have been lifted on public gatherings and on businesses, and mask-wearing is now optional for people who are fully vaccinated. The poll found a solid majority of New York state residents, 68%, think the worst of the pandemic is over, with 17% believing the worst is still to come.
And New Yorkers are eager to resume old activities, with 84% of residents comfortable with having friends over to their homes, 80% of New Yorkers ready to go to the beach or lakefront and 78% willing to take a vacation in the United States (a majority of state residents at 57% is not comfortable with vacationing outside of the country). And 77% are willing to eat indoors in a restaurant, according to the poll.
Still, there are concerns. The poll found 47% of New Yorkers are worried or very worried a family member will become sick with COVID-19. And a majority, 51%, reported feeling depressed during the pandemic.
Most expect some pandemic-related changes to carry over for the time being, including 76% expecting work will continue remotely into the fall. But 71% expect public schools will reopen for full in-person instruction without teachers or students wearing masks.
“As most New Yorkers emerge from the coronavirus nightmare, some heavier, some in better shape and some dealing with mental health effects, most are comfortable spending time with friends, going to the beach or finally taking a vacation,” said Don Levy, the director of the Siena College Research Institute. “But despite fewer than one in five thinking the worst is still to come, nearly half remain worried about getting sick and 50 percent say it is at least somewhat likely that in the fall New York will experience a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.”
The poll of 404 adults via landline and cellphone and 405 adults through an online panel in New York was conducted from June 16 to June 29; it has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
The poll's crosstabs can be found here.