Reader Survey: How safe do you feel? Not that safe

The gist: The talk has clearly shifted to reopening. It was always a question of when, not if, but when is getting closer. We asked our readers how safe they felt, and 270 weighed in.

Would you go to a restaurant? Get a haircut? Most of you said no. We picked that benchmark for a couple of reasons, most notably because this is a culture that loves to eat out, and people have been boude-ing hard about not getting haircuts. 

“I’d feel safer if everyone took this seriously in the meantime, but not holding my breath.” That’s how one respondent put it. Overall, folks still seem pretty worried.The sentiment matches up with some other survey results. (1 = Not worried; 5 = Very worried)

Lafayette may reopen, but that doesn’t mean folks are getting out there. Again, most respondents indicated they weren’t quite ready to start acting normal as things start to open up. (1 = Not at all; 5 = Resume regular activity)

So what do we make of this? For a lot of people, feeling safe will come from more testing and a vaccine. Testing still lags way behind demand locally and nationally, and a vaccine won’t be ready until 2021, even if researchers throw caution to the wind. To the extent this sample is at all representative, efforts to reopen, evenly cautiously, are moving ahead of what many people are comfortable with. That raises questions about how people will actually behave as commerce comes online again. Will the community follow? 

UL economist Gary Wagner says the survey jibes with national polls and other surveys he’s seen. “I also think the results are a good sign that people recognize the added risks and plan to voluntarily take extra precautions,” he tells me. Indeed, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found broad support for keeping restrictive stay home orders going, even among people most affected financially.