A Sacred Heart University & Hartford Courant Poll of 1,000 Connecticut residents conducted by GreatBlue Research, Inc. during the last week of March and first week of April shows that most respondents did not feel the state was prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. Only 20% of those surveyed stated that they believed that the state was prepared.
“I don’t even know how we could have prepared for something like this,” said Macy Parady. “I don’t think anyone was prepared for it.”
Parady, a hospice nurse from East Haddam, didn’t blame state leaders, and neither did a majority of those surveyed. Governor Ned Lamont got a 65% approval rating for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
“It’s a tough time. No president, no country, nobody knows what to do. I think he’s trying his best. That’s all we can hope for,” said Andre Gabriel of Farmington.
Michael Vigeant, CEO of GreatBlue Research, said Lamont reached his highest overall approval rating since he took office, 41%, in April. Vigeant pointed out that his approval rating jumped 10 points from March to April. He said Lamont’s leadership during the pandemic resonated with residents who were polled.
“I think that had almost everything to do with it,” said Vigeant.
Compare that to last September, when Lamont sat at just 24% in the Glastonbury research company’s poll.
“The governor inherited a very difficult economy. Then he jumped right into the whole tolls topic which didn’t sell with a lot of folks,” Vigeant said.
Approval of the governor’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis fell short of 50% when it came to how he addressed the impact it’s had on businesses.
“I think people are looking for more definitive plans about what’s going to happen next. I think if he can address a plan for what’s happening next there will be a greater degree of confidence,” said Dr. Lesley DeNardis, director of the Sacred Heart University Institute for Public Policy.
In response to the poll, the Governor’s Communications Director Max Reiss told NBC Connecticut News, “Governor Lamont has been focused on mitigating the spread of this virus and trying to keep as many Connecticut residents safe and healthy as possible. This is an unprecedented public health crisis and we will get through this as a state by working together.”
This poll is a snapshot in time, taken when schools had just closed, businesses were beginning to lay off workers, and information was changing by the hour. Vigeant said many of those surveyed were likely just beginning to feel the full impact of the pandemic.
“I think in a lot of ways this was unprecedented time and you could criticize or applaud any of those decisions as they were happening,” said Vigeant
Lamont got high marks for his decision to close non-essential businesses last month. Nearly 60% of respondents agreed with that decision, designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, the survey also showed that fewer people are confident in the governor’s plans moving forward: 91% expressed concerns about the state’s economy.
“Even if this resolves in a month I think for the most part people are going to be afraid to go on and shop. It’s definitely going to put small business in a struggle,” said Gabriel.
“I don’t know that the level of business is going to get everyone who was unemployed or working previously and then unemployed as a result of COVID, I don’t see all of them coming back because I think a lot of businesses are going to go under as a result of this,” Vigeant said.
Parady wondered how long it will take to get back to normal.
“I know it’s going to financially affect a lot of people and I think it’s going to be hard to recover from it,” she said. “You’re going to have such an influx of people applying for unemployment, how do you even begin to address being able to support all those people? That’s going to be hard and I think we’re going to be seeing the effects of it for a long time.”
Another poll focused on public’s willingness to return to work, school, and normal life is planned for the near future.