Siena poll: Most New Yorkers OK with slow reopening
ECONOMY

Siena poll: Most New Yorkers OK with slow reopening

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A rare help-wanted sign is displayed as unemployment soars in Cayuga County and New York. 

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers say that reviving the state's economy too quickly is more dangerous than moving slowly through a phased reopening, and 75 percent believe the state will experience a second spike of COVID-19 cases in the fall, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Wednesday.

Still, New Yorkers are unsure when it comes to what activities will be permitted and when. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe schools will be open in September, while they're split down the middle on whether large family gatherings will be permitted by July — and 84 percent believe employees who can work from home will likely keep that routine for most of 2020.

By and large, though, New Yorkers are wearing face masks — 79 percent "always" and 15 percent "most of the time" — and they overwhelmingly support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's executive order mandating that masks or coverings must be worn in public when social distancing isn't possible. Voters still overwhelmingly approve of Cuomo's response to the pandemic, with 76 percent support — though that number, alongside his favorability and job performance ratings, have dipped slightly from their record numbers last month.

"Cuomo's stratospheric ratings from New Yorkers in April have fallen from their record highs but remain very strong as two-thirds of voters still view him favorably, nearly two-thirds give him a positive job performance rating, and more than three-quarters still approve of the job he's doing to address the pandemic," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said.

Cayuga County, CNY 'in line' for second phase of reopening economy

A small plurality of New Yorkers, meanwhile, disapprove of Cuomo's handling of the pandemic as it has hit nursing homes. His administration has faced severe backlash in recent weeks for a March directive that instructed nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive patients; Cuomo later rolled back the policy but has repeatedly defended its implementation.

Cuomo has been front and center throughout the public health crisis after the state Legislature in March granted him expanded emergency powers to respond to the pandemic. Legislators had intended to convene throughout April and May, but those plans were canceled as the virus spread — though most respondents to the Siena poll said that's OK, and there will be time for the Legislature to reconvene after the crisis tapers off. (The poll was conducted before lawmakers announced plans to convene virtually this week to pass a slate of COVID-19 relief bills.)

"Democrats overwhelmingly say, 69-25 percent, that the governor is appropriately using the emergency powers given to him by the Legislature and will have time to get back to business when the crisis subsides," Greenberg said. "However, a majority of Republicans, 55 percent, and a plurality of independents, 49 percent, say the governor should not be acting unilaterally and the Legislature should resume session to pass laws to help New Yorkers."

More than half of respondents know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than a third know someone who has died.

Siena polled 796 registered voters between May 17 and 21. The margin of error is 3.7 percent.

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