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If the objective for some in the mainstream media and in politics was to condition people to develop an irrational fear of COVID-19, the effort appears to have been successful, at least to a degree.
A new survey reveals some enlightening — and disturbing — insights into how Americans view life in a post-coronavirus world as some states begin reopening their economies and easing back on stay-at-home restrictions.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the survey, which was commissioned by Vital Vio, a healthcare tech firm that employs antimicrobial LED light as a disinfectant to kill germs, found that some 40 percent of Americans will actively avoid public places unless it’s “absolutely necessary” for at least a while following the pandemic.
The survey of 1,000 adults also found more than eight-in-10 consumers (82 percent) are more concerned now about cleaning protocols and equipment used in public spaces, while 58 percent admit they have less confidence in cleaning and hygiene practices of their peers — including friends and people they know professionally.
More than three-in-10 (34 percent) said they’ll wait at least a couple of weeks after local and state governments lift stay-at-home restrictions before venturing out, while roughly one-quarter said they plan to wait longer, up to one or two months.
Meanwhile, 16 percent of Americans say they’re never going to be comfortable going out in public again even after the disease subsides.
“While COVID-19 conversations have started shifting from shutting down to reopening the country, the truth is that we’re far from normal life,” Colleen Costello, CEO and co-founder of Vital Vio, told the site StudyFinds.org.
“In fact, our report spotlights how Americans’ heightened germ concerns could push them to avoid social interactions and public spaces unless absolutely necessary, even after it’s deemed safe by the government,” Costello added.
The Daily Mail adds:
The coronavirus has led to people becoming more concerned about germs perhaps more than ever before. The findings from the survey suggest that even if people are not leaving their homes, they still worry about taking in package and mail with 57% of people cleaning them before bringing them inside.
The increased concern over germs, according to the research now sees 83% of Americans buying more chemical cleaners and disinfectants than previously.
Once they do venture out, more than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) in the survey said they’ll be paying more attention now to how businesses keep their spaces clean, with more than half saying they’ll withhold patronizing businesses that aren’t transparent about their cleaning practices.
And more Americans are now willing to pay higher prices to patronize restaurants, airlines, and other retail industries that ensure they are practicing heightening cleaning procedures.
Other findings include:
— More than one-third said they’re worried about going to restaurants
— Some 27 percent said they have new concerns about using public transit
— Nearly all — 92 percent — said they think businesses ought to make sure they are providing hand sanitizer to customers
— 78 percent said they would like to see businesses employ more cleaning staff
The coronavirus pandemic will also have a lasting effect, at least for a while, on the workplace as well, the survey found.
At least 17 percent said they’ll wait several more weeks before returning to the office, while about one-in-10 (11 percent) plan on waiting a couple of months before returning. Roughly the same number said they’re not sure if they’ll ever return to workspaces.
One-quarter of respondents said they may quit their jobs if employers failed to take the health of workers more seriously, including investing more in cleanliness.
About one-in-three (28 percent) said they didn’t think their office spaces were cleaned as often as they should be, while 23 percent expressed concerns about co-worker hygiene and 22 percent said they grew frustrated when sick co-workers failed to stay at home.
As for respondents with school-aged children, more than 25 percent said they’ll wait several more weeks before sending kids back to school if that’s even an option (since the end of the school year in most of the country is near). More than eight-in-10 said they want school districts to spend more on cleaning procedures.
“For the foreseeable future, our ‘new normal’ will likely mean more aware and cautious citizens – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’ll push businesses and public environments to become cleaner and individuals to be better about personal hygiene,” Costello noted.
“However, it’s important that Americans stay informed about the facts – understanding, at a high level, the science behind disease spread, and the simple steps they can take every day as well as technologies available to protect themselves and their families.”
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