POLL: Nearly 60% of Americans Support Stay-at-Home Orders, 32% Want to Reopen Economy

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Rotator Graphic for af.mil. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario “Charo” Gutierrez)

New polling from NBC/WSJ suggests that Americans aren’t yet ready to send the nation’s workers back to jobsites and offices, instead preferring to prioritize public health in the midst of the national coronavirus epidemic.

The NBC poll queried 900 voters across the country, 58% of whom said that they were worried the nation was going to reopen the economy too soon. Conversely, 32% of poll respondents said they were worried that the federal and state governments are going to begin returning to normalcy too late, causing unnecessary damage to the national economy.

Solid majorities of Democrats and Independents are cautious of going back to normal too soon, and a narrow plurality of Republicans are more worried about the economy.

A debate over the effects of the national coronavirus shutdown has become increasingly prevalent in U.S politics, but the poll suggests that public opinion is largely in support of prioritizing public health.

President Trump has indicated that the federal government is looking at May 1 as a tentative date to begin a gradual reopening of many American economic institutions and industries, although some states still won’t be ready at that date and will devise a reopening plan of their own accord.

Late March polling from Morning Consult showed that a great majority of 74% supported a national quarantine, although clearly the situation has evolved since then and economic concerns have become slightly more prescient.

Policy makers who move to rush a transition away from quarantine run the risk of seriously alienating a clear majority of the general public, and potentially putting public health at risk.