Majority in survey oppose large events in the fall; COVID-19 cases top 25,000

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,303 views 

(photo courtesy of Mark Wagner)

Maybe not everyone is ready to gather in Fayetteville to call those Hogs. A recent survey of 600 likely Arkansas voters found that 54% oppose the resumption of sporting and other large events this fall.

Results of the survey were discussed Wednesday (July 8) by Steuart Walton during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 briefing. The governor first mentioned the poll July 3 when he said 82% of survey respondents say they “wear personal protective equipment like a mask in public places.” The poll was conducted June 29-30 among 600 likely voters, with 48% reached by landline and 52% by cellphone. The margin of error is +/- 4%. The top reasons given by respondents for not wearing masks is they are ineffective and that the virus is a hoax.

Walton, a grandson of Walmart Inc. founders Helen and Sam Walton and chairman of the governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, said when asked the most important issue facing the state, it was no surprise 42% said COVID-19 and 18% said the economy. Rounding out the top five were social issues (7%), government (7%) and crime (6%).

Following are poll results presented Wednesday.
“As you may know, large events like professional and college sporting events, K through 12 sporting events, fairs and concerts were paused or canceled because of COVID-19. Knowing this, do you favor or oppose large events resuming the fall?”
• 54% oppose (with 37% strongly opposed)
• 37% favor (with 19% strongly favor)

“How likely would you say you are to send your kids back to school this fall for in-person instruction?”
• 59% likely (49% very likely)
• 32% unlikely (23% very unlikely)

“Compared to pre-COVID-19, how comfortable are you doing in-person activities like going to the grocery store, getting a haircut, going to a gym, going out to eat or going to church?”
• 55% comfortable (32% very comfortable)
• 41% uncomfortable (22% very uncomfortable)

And when asked if public health guidelines should be implemented on a statewide basis or on a regional/local basis, 55% said regional, and 35% said statewide.

When asked about the poll result that 82% of Arkansans wear a mask, Gov. Hutchinson said the result doesn’t necessarily mean they wear the mask all the time.

“If you’re somebody who’s got a mask in your in hand, and you’ve worn it two or three times, and the question is, ‘Do you wear protective equipment?’ ‘Sure I do.’ But does that mean you’re going to have it every time you go to the store? Does that mean you’re going to be fully compliant with it, or does that mean you use it sometimes? I think it was an encouraging number but it doesn’t mean we’ve got every resident of Arkansas wearing the mask 100% of the time for 82% of the people. I think it means you’ve got 82% of the people of Arkansas wearing a mask some of the time,” he said.

Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 25,246 on Wednesday, up from 24,512 on Tuesday. Of the 734 new community cases, 104 were from correctional facilities. There are 5,545 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 301 to 305. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 358 on Wednesday, down from 369 on Tuesday. There are 79 patients on ventilators, down from 83 on Tuesday. Of the known cases since March 11, 19,396 have recovered.

Of the 630 new community cases, 48.2% were from five counties: Pulaski County (87), Washington County (72), Benton County (60), Pope County (46), and Mississippi County (39).

As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., there were 3,016,515 U.S. cases and 131,666 deaths. Globally, there were 11,892,382 cases and 545,485 deaths.

When asked about comments from President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that schools will reopen in the fall or possibly lose funding, Gov. Hutchinson said he has long maintained schools should reopen, and state officials “will make good judgments” for the schools based on public health.

“We’re going to start school this year with in-classroom instruction, with a blended environment and option to go virtual as needed. That’s where we’re going,” he said.

He also said Thursday’s daily COVID-19 update will focus on education.