Survey says disbelief, myths guide COVID-19 choices of many Oregonians

By Tiffany Eckert (KLCC)
Jan. 11, 2021 3:04 p.m.

More than one in 10 people surveyed said they regularly gather in large groups while unmasked.

A recent survey conducted by researchers with the University of Oregon asked a random sample of state residents about their stance on masking, social distancing and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Results indicate Oregonians are not “all in” on prevention tactics.

Surveyors reached 638 people, from both urban and rural parts of the state.

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Associate Professor Benjamin Clark, who authored the study, found 11% of respondents regularly gather without masks in large groups.

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“Some of these individuals don’t think the pandemic is as big a problem as it’s made out to be,” Clark said. “They don’t believe that it’s any worse than the flu.”

Clark said a quarter of the respondents said they will not get the vaccine. And about 40% said, yes, they’d get it.

“But there’s this middle group of people that say ‘maybe.’ They are vaccine-hesitant,” he said.

Clark said those are the folks who need to hear public health messaging that dispels conspiracy theories and boosts science.

The study found that overall, Oregonians are taking on the pandemic in pretty similar ways. They do appear to have a lot of trust in the Oregon Health Authority and county public health agencies. There also seems to be a uniform trust of public broadcasting as messengers.

The overall study reported a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9%.

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