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Siena College poll: 78% think daily about protection against COVID-19

The number of people who think the worst

The number of people who think the worst of the pandemic is over has dropped from 68% in June to 50% today, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll. Credit: AP / Steven Senne

Some 78% of New Yorkers think about protecting themselves and their family from getting COVID-19 every day, according to a poll released Thursday, while the number of residents who think the worst of the pandemic is over has dropped sharply since June.

Each day, 35% of New Yorkers think all of the time about protecting themselves and their family from getting COVID-19, while 43% think about it some of the time, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll.

The number who think the worst of the pandemic is over has dropped from 68% in June to 50% today, the poll found. That slide in optimism comes as the delta variant spreads, and COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have grown since mid-July.

But conversely, the poll also found that most people are now comfortable going to places, including grocery stores and Broadway plays.

It found that 91% are at least somewhat or very comfortable going to the grocery store; 73% eating inside at a local restaurant; 61% going to work at the job they had before COVID-19; 57% going to a movie; 52% attending a professional sporting event, and 51% attending a Broadway show.

"COVID concerns and decisions rest on shoulders and weigh on our minds every day," said Don Levy, director of the institute.

"While nearly everyone is comfortable going to the grocery store, over three-quarters think about protecting their family from getting sick some of the time, and over 40% think about it all the time," he added. "Almost no one leaves home without a mask, and four out of every 10 of us have had disagreements with family and friends about COVID-related issues."

He said that while 77% of the respondents reported they were vaccinated, more than a third — 36% — still think the worst of the pandemic is still to come.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7 by random telephone calls to 394 New York adults via landline and cellphones, along with 403 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers. The margin of error was 3.8 percentage points.

One Long Island infectious disease expert said he found the results both encouraging and worrisome.

Dr. Alan M. Bulbin, director of infectious disease at Catholic Health St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center in Roslyn, said he was glad to see many people are still concerned about the virus and doing what they can to avoid getting infected.

"I’m pleased that a pretty big majority of people are still being conscientious and concerned enough to still consider taking whatever steps you have to, to protect yourself individually," Bulbin said in an interview.

But the declining optimism about the pandemic nearing an end also reflects a cold reality that COVID-19 may be with us forever in one form or the other, kind of like the flu, he said.

"On the other hand, it’s like burnout, too," he said. "You would hope that at some point we could kind of let our guard down a little bit."

But that may not be feasible, he said.

"It’s still a possibility that you could get sick," Bulbin added. "And that this will be with us, I think, forever. This virus is never going to go away at this point. It may kind of cycle through like a lot of these respiratory viruses historically have."

Long Island tallied nearly 600 new daily COVID-19 cases in test results from Wednesday. Nassau County registered 217 new cases, while Suffolk had 378, for a total of 595 for the region.

The seven-day average for positivity in testing continued the slow decline it has seen for the last few weeks, hitting 2.46% on Long Island and 2.30% statewide.

The level on Long Island was above 4% for weeks following the emergence of the delta variant in mid-July.

Across the state, 43 people died on Wednesday of causes linked to COVID-19, including one in Nassau and four in Suffolk, according to state data.

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What to know

78% of New Yorkers every day think all or some of the time about protecting themselves and their family from COVID-19.

Only 50% think the worst of the pandemic is over, compared with 68% who thought so in June.

About 91% of New Yorkers feel somewhat or very comfortable going to a supermarket, 73% eating indoors at a restaurant, and 57% going to the movies.

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