LSU Survey Shows Compliance with Stay-at-Home Order & Significant Gaps, Coronavirus Anxieties, Support for Measures to Stem Pandemic

May 5, 2020 

BATON ROUGE –  Researchers at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found that most Louisiana residents report they are complying with state and federal stay-at-home orders, express anxieties about the pandemic and the economy, but support continued efforts to slow the spread.

Dr. Michael Henderson, Director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, and Dr. Martin Johnson, Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication and Dean of the Manship School, conducted the survey with Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov, interviewing 1,000 Louisiana residents age 18 or older from across the state, April 15-28.

“As Louisiana continues to weather the coronavirus outbreak, we think it is important to know how residents of the state are coping,” Henderson said. “We hope the survey provides useful insights for state policy makers going forward.” The survey’s findings include:

  • Half of survey respondents (50%) said they have never left their home during the outbreak to attend social gatherings, religious services or for other reasons inconsistent with the state’s stay-at-home order. Another 30% say they have done so once a week or less.
  • Most respondents observe physical distancing, with 56% saying they have always stayed at least 6 feet apart from others when they leave home and 28% doing so very often. However, Louisiana residents have been less likely to wear face masks, with 34% of respondents saying they always wear a face covering in public and 15% saying they very often wear one.
  • Majorities of respondents express public health and economic anxieties: 77% of Louisiana adults are worried they or someone in their family will get sick from coronavirus and 76% worry that local businesses will close permanently because of lost revenue during the outbreak.   
  • Majorities approve of coronavirus response from federal (54%), state (64%) and local (62%) government.
  • Three-quarters (74%) of respondents—including most Republicans and most Democrats in the state—said during the last two weeks of April that the U.S. and Louisiana should continue measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, such as stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

“The survey results are very encouraging, demonstrating that respondents understood the importance of inconvenient public health measures during the peak of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Louisiana,” notes Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, PhD, MPH, MS, Associate Professor in Epidemiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. “Louisiana residents complying with measures such as shelter in place helped to ‘flatten the curve’ as data from the Louisiana Health Department indicate so that we can hopefully soon move to Phase 1 of re-opening the State of Louisiana.”

The survey was funded by philanthropic support from the Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication Johnson holds. Henderson and Johnson developed the survey instrument replicating some items from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s national polling on the spread of coronavirus.

See the full survey results.

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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in Media and Public Affairs, certificate of Strategic Communication, and dual MMC/Law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.

LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL) is a research center dedicated to high quality, state-of-the-art survey research. A joint effort of the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs and the LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, PPRL has advanced both practical and scholarly research for nearly 20 years.