New Jersey Residents More Stressed, Worried By COVID-19 Than Rest of Country: Poll

Compared to the rest of the country, New Jersey residents are more concerned about the COVID-19 crisis, know more people infected with the virus and are feeling more stressed out than people from other parts of the nation, a new poll found.

Residents in New Jersey, one of the hardest hit states in the U.S., also aren’t optimistic about a return to pre-pandemic life anytime soon, according to a Monmouth University Poll released April 27.

The poll found regional differences in levels of concern that align with how the outbreak has moved across the state. Specifically, North Jersey residents (68%) are most likely to be very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, followed by those in Central Jersey (60%) and those in South Jersey (51%).

The poll, which surveyed 704 adults by phone between April 16 to 19, found New Jerseyans are more likely to report the outbreak had a “major impact on their lives,” including direct exposure to the virus, job layoffs and increased worry about being infected.

‘Major’ Impact On Life, Work

The poll’s results “should come as no surprise,” Monmouth University Polling Institute Director, Patrick Murray.

“They confirm what we have been seeing from other sources,” he said. “New Jersey has been harder hit than most of the country. And, people of color, who make up a sizable proportion of the state’s diverse population, have been even harder hit overall.”

The outbreak has had “a major impact” on 71% of people in New Jersey, which is a bigger percentage than the 62% of Americans who feel the same, according to a national Monmouth poll taken earlier this month.

Personal Connection

Sixty-one percent of residents said they personally know someone who has gotten the virus, which is much higher than the 26% of Americans who know someone infected. And, more than three times as many N.J. residents said either they or a family member had COVID-19 than those nationally, 24% to 7%.

More than 4 in 10 New Jersey residents report that someone in their household has been laid off from work due to the outbreak, which includes 24% that said they personally lost their job. Nationally, 30% reported a household layoff, including 12% who said they are out of work.

“Many New Jerseyans are just starting to feel the financial pinch, but these results suggest the economic impact will be much more widespread and particularly damaging to lower income families here than in other states,” Murray said.

No Summer At The Shore?

While 68% in the national survey said they expected life to return to normal soon, only 60% of New Jersey residents felt the same.

The poll also found many people expect summer plans involving trips to the Jersey Shore to fall through.

Six in 10 residents initially planned to be beach-bound this summer, but now 51% said they “definitely” or “likely” would not vacation at the shore.

“Going down the shore is one of those defining features of being a New Jerseyan,” Murray said. “Whether or not we can keep those plans this year will say a lot about how quickly the state can get on the road to recovery.”

Other Key New Jersey Numbers

  • 68% of New Jersey residents reported their daily stress level has increased, compared with 55% in the national poll.
  • Those in New Jersey who have experienced a household layoff (45%) are only slightly more likely than those who have not (41%) to report that their stress level has gone up a lot.
  • 61% of people in the state are “very concerned about someone in their family becoming seriously ill.” Only 50% of Americans expressed the same.
  • 17% of New Jersey residents are “very confident” the country will limit the outbreak’s impact over the next few weeks. 38% are “somewhat confident” and 25% are “not too confident.” Nationally, 15% are “very confident,” 38% are “somewhat confident,” and 24% “not too confident.”

As of April 28, the state reported more than 113,850 confirmed cases and 6,440 virus-related deaths.

The poll was taken prior to Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement on how New Jersey will transition out the statewide shutdown put into place last month to limit the spread of the virus. His six-point “Road Back” recovery plan calls for more testing and contact tracing, but does not include a timetable for when the current restrictions could be lifted.

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