The State of New York – A Survey

In the middle of the worst surge the United States has seen as of yet, with over 200000 new cases a day and over 100000 people hospitalized, how do New Yorkers feel about the pandemic?

New York City was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the United States. The images of the city and its residents, overwhelmed by the disease, hospitals stretched to emergent situations, and public health efforts stretched to a breaking point, still haunt many of us.

In truth, New York City’s experience with COVID-19 earlier this year gave us not only a glimpse as to how bad it could get, but also a fighting start at preventing additional surges.

Now, in the middle of the worst surge the United States has seen as of yet, with over 200000 new cases a day and over 100000 people hospitalized, how do New Yorkers feel about the pandemic? A new survey performed by the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, sought to assess how New Yorkers were feeling about COVID-19 and their experiences during the pandemic. Polled over several days in September and late November, this is the preliminary data, which will be updated once more in January.

For a city so hard hit, the results weren’t surprising but shed light on sentiments many of us likely identify with. “78% of New York City residents believe it is likely or very likely the city will again experience a resurgence of cases similar to that seen last April. However, the November Presidential election appears to have triggered an optimism among New Yorkers: more than half feel “more hopeful” about the country’s economic recovery (55%) and the government’s ability to control the pandemic (58%).”

Following the election, those surveyed also were more willing to accept a vaccine with the recent election results. Sadly, 21% of respondents consistently stated a level of anxiety and depression. Fortunately, hopefulness for the future rose by 11% since September. One piece that was quite concerning, and yet understandable, was trust in federal and state government.

Less than a quarter of respondents stated that they trusted the federal government with their best interests in mind and 38% felt that way about the state government. The authors of the survey also noted that “as the pandemic lingers trust in fellow citizens appears to have eroded substantially, dropping 12% since September with only 31% of respondents agreeing that “most people can be trusted.”

Some additional findings note that 30% of New Yorkers had to change their living arrangements since the beginning of the pandemic, with nearly half of respondents having to move to cheaper housing. Of those who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, nearly half remained unemployed.

Three out of ten New Yorkers ran out of food in November before they had the funds to buy additional food. This more current surge also has led to 40% of New Yorkers believing that normal activities should be rolled back or delayed.

Ultimately, the findings of this survey are particularly insightful and interesting. We should consider the financial and economic implications of the pandemic on those respondents and the mental health aspects, which point to a desperate need to provide wrap-around services for all.