DHSS opinion survey reveals Alaskans’ thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic
A statewide survey conducted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) in late November reveals that Alaskans’ don’t believe the state has done enough to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and would support some form of a mask mandate.
In this survey, 406 Alaskans provided their thoughts on a variety of topics including the COVID-19 vaccine, prevention measures, Alaska’s response to the pandemic, and how individuals have been personally affected by the pandemic.
Thirteen percent of survey-takers reported they were Democrats, 24 percent Republicans, 14 percent non-partisan, 42 percent undeclared political party, and 4 percent said another party.
The first question asked how respondents felt about the state of Alaska’s economy. Only 2 percent of people answered that they believe Alaska’s economy was “very good,” with 29 percent saying “good.” Instead, 49 percent of respondents believe that the economy is “not too good,” with 19 percent responding that the economy is “pretty bad.”
Respondents were also asked if they felt Alaska was moving in the right direction or the wrong direction. Only 26 percent of people said that the state was moving in the right direction, with 65 percent responding that Alaska is on the wrong track. Nine percent said they were unsure.
When asked about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alaska, 72 percent of respondents believed that the situation was very serious.
People were also asked to rate different officials on how they handled the response to the pandemic. The official with the highest rating was Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer. Sixty percent of respondents believed that she had done a good job and only 13 percent responded with a poor job.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was the second highest rated, with 57 percent believing he’s done a good job and 30 percent believing the opposite. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy was the next highest rated official with 52 percent responding with good and 46 responding with bad.
President Donald Trump was the lowest rated on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 43 percent of the respondents believing he had a good response and 56 percent believing that his response was bad.
Although Alaska has not been the hardest hit by the pandemic, 82 percent of survey-takers reported that either they, someone they know, or both had been infected by COVID. Only 17 percent of people did not know anyone who had been infected.
The fatigue and worry caused by the pandemic has yet to abate however as 60 percent of the respondents said that they believe the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. Forty-six percent believed that the state had not done enough to limit the spread, and 52 percent worry that the state will not go far enough to limit the movement and activities of citizens
Although Alaska is often believed to be rather conservative, respondents were in favor of the state imposing a statewide mask mandate. A further 25 percent believed that rather than the state government the local governments should be in charge of mask mandates.
Eighty-two percent of people also believed that people should make changes to their lifestyle to stop the spread of the virus. But when asked if they support the government shutting down restaurants, bars, health clubs, and some retail establishments, only 55 percent of people responded yes.
In a time where a public health crisis has become partisan, 67 percent of respondents expressed trust in the advice of health officials. But, in the era of fake news, 58 percent of respondents distrust the media’s ability to give accurate information on COVID-19.
Eighty-nine percent of the respondents believe that the COVID-19 pandemic had been politicized.
Although nationwide distrust towards the vaccine efforts is high, 64 percent of people said that they would get the vaccine once it was approved and available.
“We remain confident that collaborative efforts to inform Alaskans about how to best protect themselves and others is working,” said Commissioner Adam Crum of the DHSS. “These survey results show Alaskans are listening and following the guidance, which is helping to slow the spread of the virus and get Alaskans’ lives back to normal faster.”