If one listened to a number of North Carolina political commentators — particularly on the right — a person would get the impression that a large majority of North Carolinians have been clamoring for schools to reopen ASAP. According to this oft-repeated spiel, Gov. Cooper is wrongfully stifling “freedom” by continuing to enforce public health restrictions in response to the pandemic and North Carolinians are increasingly up in arms about it.
As a new Elon University poll highlighted this morning by Raleigh’s News & Observer makes clear, North Carolinians understand the risks that continue from COVID-19. Indeed, if anything, the numbers indicate that Cooper may be proceeding too quickly with reopening. This is from the N&O story entitled “NC residents don’t want to rush reopening of schools and businesses, new poll finds”:
The majority of North Carolina residents back using a go-slow approach to reopening public schools and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Elon University poll.
In the poll released Thursday, 77% of respondents said it was a good decision for most North Carolina public schools to offer only online classes instead of in-person classes at the start of the school year.
Only 28% of respondents said the timing of the state’s phased reopening of businesses has been too slow. Also, 28% said the state’s coronavirus rules and regulations have been too restrictive. The majority of respondents felt the state’s response was just right or wasn’t restrictive enough.
The new findings mirror results from a June Elon poll when 21% said the state’s rules were too restrictive. People who want the state to reopen immediately haven’t grown substantially since the summer, according to Jason Husser, director of the Elon University poll.
The poll also found voters to be lukewarm on the school reopening that’s been taking place:
Poll respondents were split on when students should return — 48% said most schools shouldn’t return to full-time in-person instruction for most students until there’s a vaccine and/or treatment for COVID-19 or until the start of next school year. That compared to 42% who said students should return either as soon as possible, in the next few months or before the end of the school year.
The bottom line: North Carolinians grasp the ongoing deadly seriousness of the pandemic, appreciate the impossible political and public health tight rope that the Cooper administration is trying to walk and, if anything, want the Governor to stay extremely cautious going forward. The “reopen” movement remains a noisy minority.
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