Community COVID Survey
In fall 2020, the City of Worthington Community Coronavirus Task Force conducted a survey to understand how our community has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis. A year into the ongoing pandemic, we checked in once more to learn how community members are managing. Respondents were asked to take the survey once again to provide an update on how the situation may have changed for them since the start of the new year.
The first survey—wave 1—concluded in late September, just before local case numbers started to climb steeply over the holiday months and well before the good news about vaccine availability. The second survey—wave 2—concluded at the end of March, as local case numbers were in decline and vaccines were underway in Ohio for high-risk groups.
When the survey was first conducted in September 2020, mental health and financial impacts were the top concerns of Worthington citizens. The results can be reviewed in more detail below. As a result of these findings, the City worked with our local non-profit service organizations to develop additional support programs and provide Federal CARES Act grant funding. Local businesses were also supported with additional rounds of CARES Act grant funding and other special promotional opportunities.
The information shared in the second round of this survey will continue to help organizations serving the greater Worthington area to understand the ongoing impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the people in our community and respond to current areas of need.
This survey is presented in partnership with the City of Worthington, Community Relations Commission, Griswold Center, I Am Boundless, McConnell Arts Center, Northwest Counseling Services, United Methodist Church, Worthington Libraries, Worthington Parks & Recreation, Worthington Resource Pantry, and Worthington Schools.
2021 Coronavirus Survey Round 2 Results
In general, the overall landscape is more hopeful than it was six months ago. Nationally, polling has found that Americans are feeling better about the country’s pandemic response, vaccine willingness has increased, and people are beginning to undertake some usual activities again, such as visiting loved ones or going out to eat. But about half still feel that returning to pre-pandemic life presents a moderate to large risk. In addition, national polling finds that economic conditions are improving for many, but that some are still struggling to recover. Psychological distress levels have also improved somewhat since the start of the pandemic, but women and those with lower incomes show high distress levels in greater numbers.
In Worthington, the survey shows that there has been no singular pandemic experience. People who were financially secure at the start, with a good support system in place, were better able to weather the ups and downs of the last year. Others, who may have been having a difficult time before the pandemic, saw their struggles amplified. Almost everyone can find themselves in the spectrum between those experiences.
The good news is, things are starting to improve and some aspects of everyday life are returning to almost normal. Although many people are still working from home, more than 60% are now working at their regular places of employment. Schools and daycare facilities have mostly reopened, easing some of the burden for working parents and providing children with needed routine and the opportunity to be with their teachers and classmates.
With vaccines now readily available to adults who want them, people—especially those who are now fully vaccinated—are starting to venture out and engage in activities they’ve been avoiding for a year, such as seeing extended family, getting together with friends and traveling. Most retailers, restaurants and other establishments, like gyms, community centers and libraries, have now reopened. Though restrictions still apply and many people are still avoiding indoor gatherings, it would seem we are on a path to have a far more normal summer, with significantly less stress and worry about getting ill, than the one we experienced last year.
The pandemic, however, is not over, and the road to full recovery will be long, especially for those hardest hit by the financial and social impacts of the last year. In wave 2, we once again found a significant number of people dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. This was particularly pronounced among families.
In addition, with a majority of people still avoiding going inside for many purchases, activities and services, it may still take considerable time for restaurants, small retail businesses and non-profits that rely on revenue from ticket sales, admissions and events to rebound from the financial impact of the still-ongoing pandemic.
The unfortunate politicization of health orders and vaccines further complicates recovery as people who are reluctant or refuse to get vaccinated may make it difficult to return to life as it was before the pandemic.
September 2020 Results - Survey Data Reveals Impact of COVID-19 on Worthington Community
Mental health and financial impacts are the top concerns of Worthington citizens based on the Worthington Community Coronavirus Survey conducted in August and September 2020. The City of Worthington is sharing key findings from the survey, developed with the assistance of several community partners. It targeted people who live in, work in, or have a significant connection to Worthington.
The survey consisted of two series of questions. The first set of core questions asked respondents about their employment, personal finances, health and wellness, social and emotional wellbeing, technology access, family life and support network. The core questions included some branching logic for those who are currently employed and those who are self-employed, as well as for respondents who reported having children in their households.
The second set of questions asked respondents to share their habits and attitudes when it comes to the pandemic response, including safety precautions, risk assessment, news sources and trust. Because the survey is fairly lengthy, respondents were able to opt-out of the second set of questions if they no longer wished to continue. The survey was completed by 2,359 people with 858 agreeing to be contacted about follow-up surveys in the future.
Areas of particular concern identified in the overall survey data include:
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, many people in our survey saw a change in employment, with 24% of Worthington respondents reporting a loss of income, 16% experiencing a reduction in hours, and 14% returning to work after not being employed for a period of time. 7% percent have been furloughed without pay, and 4% have been permanently let go or laid off.
Although many individuals (56% in our survey compared to 22% nationally) were fortunate in being able to make the shift to working from home, nearly 25% of respondents and 67% of businesses have experienced some loss of income or revenue.
While most of our respondents appear able to weather another mandatory shutdown or a total loss of income for a period of time, roughly 10% of respondents are in a financially precarious position when it comes to covering expenses. For these people, their ability to afford food and household goods, pay bills, including utilities, and make rent/mortgage payments, has gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.
Small business impact
When asked how the coronavirus has impacted their business, 67% report a loss of revenue, 24% report they have seriously considered closing their business, and 11% have been forced to close a business. These statistics are significantly higher than those reported by Ipsos (2020), which found small business revenue loss of 6% and a small business closure of 3% (although it should be noted we are working with a smaller sample size of just 94 people).
The community’s small businesses and organizations are being impacted by both the mandatory shutdowns in spring and now by a community that is largely unwilling to resume normal levels of activity even as businesses open with safety measures in place.
More than 60% of respondents were unwilling to dine in at restaurants and bars, use fitness centers, attend indoor group programs, use a taxi or ridesharing service, or visit entertainment centers like bowling alleys and movie theaters. More than 50% of respondents are unwilling to go inside a coffee shop or visit a museum or art gallery.
When asked to rate how they, personally, felt in the last seven days, 39% of respondents reported feeling anxious at least a moderate amount (3-4 days) of time. Although the majority of respondents reported low (47%) or medium (27%) levels of distress, one-quarter (26%) report a high level of distress. When asked if they felt hopeful about the future in the last seven days, more than half (55%) said some or only a little of the time or rarely.
Children are also being negatively impacted by the pandemic. Asked to reflect on how their children felt in the last day, parents noted high levels of boredom (76%), stress (57%), worry (53%), sadness (47%), loneliness (46%) and anger (46%). When compared to a Gallup (2020) poll conducted in March, Worthington respondents report significantly higher levels of worry, anger, stress, loneliness and sadness in their children.
Our survey found that 39% of parents somewhat agree and 10% strongly agree with the statement: I’m unsure how to give my children the support they need right now. 10% of respondents also said they do not have someone to talk to or somewhere they can go for support when it comes to the mental health of others in the household or immediate family.
The City of Worthington is using this data to inform outreach efforts and grant funding for small businesses and organizations in our community. The City is also working with our community partners to help families struggling with mental health concerns resulting from the pandemic to improve knowledge of and access to local resources.