Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday, May 26, 2020, that the Hudson Valley has entered the first phase of reopening after the coronavirus. He spoke in Manhattan at the New York Stock Exchange after ringing the opening bell. New York State Team
ALBANY – Don’t reopen New York too soon and risk public health.
That’s the message from voters in a Siena College poll released Wednesday as the state starts to allow businesses to reopen in four phases over the next eight weeks.
Only New York City has yet to enter phase one of reopening, which allows construction and other manufacturing work to get underway, along with curbside retail. Parts of upstate are expected to reach phase two Friday.
By a margin of 65% to 32%, voters said moving too quickly to loosen stay-at-home orders would be a bigger danger than moving too slowly to loosen those orders.
There could be another reason for voters’ consternation: 75% believed it was at least somewhat likely another outbreak of COVID-19 is coming.
“New Yorkers, including 79% of Democrats, 50% of Republicans and 54% of independents, see a bigger danger for the state in moving too quickly to reopen rather than in moving too slowly,” Siena College poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said in a statement.
“Three-quarters of New York City voters are concerned about moving too quickly to end the stay-at-home orders, as are nearly 60% of upstaters and downstate suburbanites.”
There was also a racial disparity in the views of New Yorkers, Greenberg said.
While 44% of African-American voters and 27% of white voters live in a household where at least one person has been laid off, 84% of black voters are more concerned about opening too quickly compared to 59% of white voters, he said.
“Clearly, the devastating health consequences of the pandemic are of greater concern to New Yorkers than the devastating economic impacts,” he said.
Cuomo’s approval takes a dip over nursing home deaths
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month had his highest approval ratings of his 10 years as governor, Siena found.
But this month his favorability rating dipped to 66% to 30%, down from 77% to 21%.
And his job performance rating fell to 63% to 36%, down from a record 71% to 28%.
The main reason for the drop: Voters were displeased with the handling of the pandemic in nursing homes, where more than 5,600 people have died due to COVID-19.
Only 44% gave him positive marks on his handling of the virus in nursing homes after he was criticized for a Marchh 25 policy that let COVID patients back into the facilities.
Earlier this month, he reversed the policy and now requires infected residents to stay in a hospital until they test negative.
Democrats viewed his handling of nursing homes positively, at 54% to 39%, but 55% of Republicans and 61% of independents give him a negative grade.
Cuomo has defended his actions, saying New York did its best to protect its most vulnerable population as it feared an overrun of its hospital system.
“We have over 600 nursing homes,” he said earlier this month. “We’ve had one of the best nursing home systems in the country for a long period of time. You could always have people who say that we should do more.”
Wear a mask, voters said
By an 89% to 9% margin, voters supported Cuomo’s order requiring face masks to be worn in public when social distancing cannot be maintained.
But 71% of those polled said they saw someone in the last week not wearing a mask when they should have been.
“Support for wearing masks in public is above 90 percent with Democrats and downstaters and at least 82 percent with Republicans, independents and upstaters,” Greenberg said.
Fifty-seven percent of voters said they knew someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, including more than two-thirds of downstaters, up from 51% last month.
And 37% said they knew someone who has died from COVID-19, including nearly half of downstaters.
Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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