Gov't gets high marks for COVID-19 management, despite spike

Gov't gets high marks for COVID-19 management, despite spike

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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Despite a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two months, more than 60 per cent of respondents in the latest survey conducted by veteran pollster Bill Johnson have given the Government high marks for its handling of the pandemic.

At the same time, concerns about the virus have jumped from 55 per cent in July to 73 per cent in September, especially among older Jamaicans, the majority of whom have applauded the Administration's COVID-19 response.

Johnson and his team of researchers — fresh from their successful prediction of the September 3, 2020 General Election — returned to the field September 11-13 on a commission from the Jamaica Observer to gather data on developments leading into the vote and the influence those issues had on the outcome of the election.

The researchers interviewed 1,000 voting-age Jamaicans islandwide, giving the poll a sampling error of plus or minus three per cent.

When the researchers asked people to say how worried they are about the novel coronavirus, 42 per cent of respondents said they were very worried, 31 per cent said they were somewhat worried, while 27 per cent said they were not really worried.

Asked to rate the Government's handling of the crisis, 33 per cent of respondents said it was excellent, 33 per cent said pretty good, while 20 per cent rated it as fair, and 12 per cent said it was poor.

“The Government continues to receive very high marks for the way it's handling the effects of the pandemic, although they've receded somewhat over the past two months,” Johnson stated in his analysis of the findings. “By a 2 to 1 majority — 66 per cent to 32 per cent — the Government receives a positive rather than a negative rating.”

The pollster pointed out that in two previous polls, conducted March 12-15 and July 9-12, the Government's positive rating on its handling of the pandemic stood at 54 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively.

However, Johnson also noted that concerns about the novel coronavirus have spiked in the two months since his last survey.

“Almost three-quarters of Jamaicans are now worried about coronavirus and its effects on the country. This is up from 55 per cent in July and 60 per cent in March,” Johnson stated.

He also said it was not surprising that the survey found that Jamaicans who are 55 years and older are more concerned about the coronavirus than others.

In the 55-64 age group a combined 79 per cent of respondents said they were worried about the virus, while in the 65 and older age group the number was 84 per cent.

At the same time, 69 per cent of respondents in the 55-64 age group and 78 per cent of those 65 years and older give the Government kudos for its handling of the pandemic.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that Jamaica's COVID-19 case count stood at 5,373 since the first reported case in March this year. Of that number, 1,444 patients have recovered, while 76 have died.

The country had been managing very well to limit the spread of the virus until the Emancipation and Independence holiday weekends when there was an increase in breaches of the safety and quarantine protocols, mostly by Jamaicans, some of them visiting from abroad or who had returned home from overseas.

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