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A man runs past a fountain in Kansas City, Mo., on April 20, 2020. The city continues to be under an extended stay-at-home order until May 15. (AP) A man runs past a fountain in Kansas City, Mo., on April 20, 2020. The city continues to be under an extended stay-at-home order until May 15. (AP)

A man runs past a fountain in Kansas City, Mo., on April 20, 2020. The city continues to be under an extended stay-at-home order until May 15. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson April 22, 2020
Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy April 22, 2020

If Your Time is short

• Large majorities of Americans, and even sizable majorities of Republicans, oppose lifting stay-at-home orders too quickly, for fear that the pandemic could worsen.

• Depending on the poll, between 58% and 81% of Americans were supportive of keeping current restrictions in place or even expanding them to the nation as a whole.

In recent days, a number of state capitals have faced protests against continued stay-at-home orders and business closures. These have put a spotlight on the dilemmas faced by the nation’s governors over whether, and how, to open their economies again.

So how do Americans actually feel?

Americans, many of whom have been stuck at home for several weeks, may dream of returning to the pre-coronavirus "normal," but only in a theoretical, aspirational sense. Polling has consistently shown that Americans do not want to become fully open right now, because they perceive a serious health risk from doing so.

National polls

We looked at six national polls from recent weeks. 

A HuffPost/YouGov poll asked, "Some state governments have told residents to stay at home unless they have an essential reason for going out (for instance, going to a job considered essential, getting food or supplies, or exercising outside). Do you think orders like these are currently the right decision or the wrong decision?" 

Among all respondents, 81% percent said it was the right decision. That broke down to 87% support among Democrats, 82% among Republicans, and 76% among independents.

A Quinnipiac University poll asked a different but related question: "Do you support or oppose a stay at home order on a national level?"

Among all respondents, 81% said they supported a national order. The idea garnered support from 95% of Democrats, 68% of Republicans, and 80% of independents.

A Fox News poll asked, "Do you favor or oppose the federal government taking the following action in response to coronavirus: Announcing a national stay-in-place order for everyone except essential workers?" 

Among all respondents, 80% supported the idea. Support broke down to 86% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 74% of independents.

A Pew Research Center poll asked, "Thinking about the decisions by a number of state governments to impose significant restrictions on public activity because of the coronavirus outbreak, is your greater concern that state governments will lift the restrictions too quickly or not quickly enough?"

Among all respondents, 66% said they worried about lifting the restrictions too quickly, while 32% said they worried about not lifting the restrictions quickly enough. Among Democrats, 81% said they would worry more about lifting restrictions too quickly, while among Republicans, 51% said so.

A YahooNews-YouGov poll released April 20 asked, "In considering whether to reopen the economy, are you more concerned about lifting the restrictions too quickly or too slowly?" Among all respondents, 71% said they were more concerned about the restrictions being lifted too quickly. That figure was 85% for Democrats and 56% for Republicans.

And an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released on April 20 asked, "Which worries you more ... that the United States will move too quickly in loosening restrictions and the virus will continue to spread with more lives being lost, or that the United States will take too long in loosening restrictions and the economic impact will be even worse with more jobs being lost?" Overall, 58% said they worried more about lifting the restrictions too soon.

 
State and local polling

The polling data for specific states and localities showed similar patterns during that time frame.

In Washington state, which was one of the first states to enforce stay-at-home orders, a late-March poll by KING5-TV and SurveyUSA asked, "Does the state of Washington's stay-at-home order go too far? Not go far enough? Or is it just about right?"

Among all respondents, 55% said it was about right and 29% said it didn’t go far enough. Only 13% said it went too far. Only 17% of Republicans polled said the order went too far.

Meanwhile, a poll for the Retail Association of Nevada by the firm Amplify Relations of employed Nevadans found 13% support for a full closure without delivery or curbside pickup, 6% support for delivery but not curbside pickup, and 50% support for a closure with both delivery and curbside pickup. Only 21 percent opposed closing non-essential businesses.

And in Los Angeles, a Loyola Marymount University poll asked, "Do you support the decision to implement the Safer at Home order to stay at home unless you are essential personnel?" The pollsters found that 77% strongly supported the stay-at-home policy, 18% said they somewhat supported it, and only 5% either somewhat or strongly opposed it.

 

All told, then, large majorities of Americans, and even sizable majorities of Republicans, remain concerned that lifting stay-at-home orders could result in an accelerated spread of coronavirus. Depending on the poll, between 58% and 81% of Americans were supportive of keeping the current restrictions in place for the time being, or even expanding them to the nation as a whole.

This sentiment could change as Americans tired of being stuck at home, or as new developments emerge in the pandemic and the government’s response. But that’s where the American public stands just over a month into the lockdowns.

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Large majorities of Americans support keeping stay-at-home policies for now