Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

1,400 surveyed

86% going to downtowns less

13%vaccinated so far

FEBRUARY 2021 – Nearly one year ago, the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life on Long Island and throughout the world.

nextLI, an initiative by Newsday funded by a grant the Rauch Foundation, surveyed Long Islanders recently to investigate their attitudes about the implications of COVID-19, the current health of the downtowns on LI, the future state of retail and their visions for land use.

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Siena College Research Institute ran a public opinion poll for nextLI from January 20 – February 1, 2021 of 1,400 Nassau County and Suffolk County residents 18 years of age and older. The survey was conducted via telephone to both landline and cell phones and via the internet to a panel of respondents in specified zip codes to enhance the demographic distribution of the sample.

In both the online and telephone samples quotas were installed by county, age and race so as to maximize the representativeness of the sample. Upon completion of data collection, the sample was weighted using known parameters from the U.S. Census and New York Board of Elections to further ensure representation.

Vaccines – Do you plan to get vaccinated for the Coronavirus, or not?

  • 84% of Long Islanders surveyed said they have yet to be vaccinated.
  • 61% plan to get the vaccine, while 39% don’t plan to or unsure if they will.
  • If they aren’t planning to get the vaccine or are unsure, the reason most cited was “that it is too early… the vaccine may have been rushed.”

Downtowns – How important do you think it is to the quality of life on Long Island to have vibrant local downtown areas?

  • Pre-pandemic, most were visiting downtowns one to three times a week or at least once a month but less than weekly. 71% of respondents said vibrant local downtowns areas are very important to the quality of life on Long Island.
  • The most common activity pre-pandemic was to go to restaurants, bars or cafes, and 86% reported they are doing that less now.
  • On what they hope downtown areas of the future are like, the favorite was “a mixture of local businesses, and service providers situated alongside central streets providing residents with a way to meet their shopping and service needs.”

Economy/Development – Are you in favor of or opposed to devoting more real estate to housing units in downtown areas? Outside of local downtown areas across Long Island there are vacant commercial buildings that used to house major retailers. Do you support or oppose redeveloping these empty malls or strip centers into mixed use developments of both retail and residential?

  • 93% are very or somewhat concerned that local businesses will be able to successfully remain in business until the pandemic is fully under control.
  • 65% support redeveloping empty malls or strip centers outside of downtowns into mixed use developments of both retail and residential.
  • In downtown areas, 38% are opposed to devoting more real estate to housing units, while 33% are in favor and 29% don’t know.

These overall results vary when parsed by different demographics. Explore the findings by age here and by race here.

Want to dive in yourself? Email for the results.


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