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BeHeardCVA Coronavirus II Survey, April-May 2020

UVA’s Center for Survey Research conducted a survey of the BeheardCVA panel members to gather information about area residents’ perceptions and experiences regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in our community.  Interviews were conducted from April 28 to May 5, 2020.  The survey questionnaire focused on four main themes, physical health and health care; effectiveness of government policies; economic impacts, and mental health.  Questions were formulated considering the input from over 300 BeHeardCVA participants and suggestions from several local non-profits, government agencies and health officials.

BeHeardCVA is the first survey panel in the state of Virginia and is designed to represent the diverse people of Central Virginia. "CVA" stands for both Central Virginia and Charlottesville Area. BeHeardCVA is a movement meant to listen to the voices of residents in every part of the greater Charlottesville area, including Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties. Overall, 683 panelists responded (over 60% of those contacted).  Survey results were weighted to reflect the demographic characteristics of the region, resulting in a statistical margin of error of plus or minus seven percent.

Key Findings

The objective of this survey was to provide federal, state, and local decision-makers, the health care community, the media, and the general public with information so they have a better understanding of how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting people’s lives.

Physical Health and Health Care

  • Nearly one in three respondents reported having a friend or relative who has tested positive for COVID-19 or shown clear symptoms.
  • Almost half of all respondents felt that they could definitely or probably would be able to get a test for COVID-19, if needed in the next two months.  An even higher proportion (69%) indicated they would definitely or probably get an antibody test when available in our area.  Men and women were equally receptive to the antibody testing.
  • Three in four Central Virginians reported having access to their primary care provider either in person or virtually. Half indicated that they have not been contacted by their health provider since the pandemic started. The vast majority (73%) have access to telehealth options.
  • In terms of taking care of routine health care needs, dental and eye exams were the least accessible with clinics being temporarily closed and/or routine care being postponed.  A large majority (79%) indicated they had no trouble getting a prescription refilled.  Very few respondents indicated a need for elective surgery, but nearly 80 percent of those wanting an elective procedure could not get it at this time.  Nearly one in four avoided going to a hospital or clinic, while 15 percent avoided going to an emergency room.
  • Of the more than 80 percent of respondents who indicated that they wear a mask either frequently or occasionally, they reported wearing them most often to go to a store or business (90%), at any public place (40%), at their workplace (21%), and at hospitals or clinics (19%).

Effectiveness of Government Policies

  • Confidence in the government response varied considerably with Central Virginians being generally more supportive of the job that the state was doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus than the federal government. Specifically, 62% of respondents consider the Virginia state government to be “doing the right amount” in response to COVID-19, whereas 66% of respondents consider the U.S. government to be “not doing enough”. Results varied by locality, with a higher percentage of Nelson County residents indicating that the state was not doing enough (34%) while Louisa and Greene residents reported that the state was doing too much (29% and 26%, respectively).  In terms of the federal response, the majority of participants from Louisa (53%) felt the U.S. government was doing the right amount. Most all other localities considered the federal response to not be enough. 
  • Two-thirds of area residents say keeping people at home during current conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic is more important than re-opening businesses.  Fewer than one in four said it is more important to open things up.  Men were more likely than women to say that opening up is more important, and respondents who have jobs that they can’t do from their homes were also much more likely to choose “opening up” as the more important concern.
  • Respondents were evenly split on their support of a policy that would open Central Virginia before the entire state is opened (48% opposed versus 45% favored).  Again, men were more likely to favor a regional approach to opening, as were those with jobs they cannot do from home.
  • A slim majority of residents (52%) would disapprove of people starting to go on trips to other parts of the United States once the stay-at-home order is lifted. A majority (56%) would also disapprove of encouraging tourists and travelers from elsewhere to visit Central Virginia.
  • Under the current stay-at-home order, nearly every household has had someone leave home for one reason or another in the past seven days. The most common reasons for leaving the home were to: shop inside a grocery store (81%), walk a pet or get exercise (70%), pick up food or beverages from a restaurant (52%), go to work (44%), or to shop for household goods or home improvement supplies (35%).
  • Given a choice from among 24 different activities, under current COVID-19 conditions but with the stay-at-home order lifted, majorities of residents would be willing to shop inside a grocery store (78%), pick up food from a restaurant (64%), pick up groceries with curb-side pickup (56%), and travel outside our area by car (56%).  Activities in which residents report they would be least likely (less than 5 percent) to engage under current conditions included traveling by train, attending a party with more than 10 people, or attending religious services or events at either indoor or outdoor arenas when normal seating arrangements are in place.
  • Respondents were also asked about willingness to do the same things under somewhat more favorable future conditions: fewer deaths, fewer cases, widespread availability of testing, and some effective treatments for COVID-19, but still with no vaccine available. Under these more favorable conditions, willingness does increase but still at a limited rate, indicating that much economic activity will be hampered by people’s caution about COVID-19. For example, less than 20 percent of respondents were willing to: travel outside our area by air or train, attend an event at an outdoor arena or pavilion with normal seating, eat inside a restaurant with normal seating, attend religious services with normal seating, and attend an event at an indoor arena or auditorium with normal seating.

Economic Impacts

  • Nearly three out of four respondents that are working reported they had the type of job where they could work from home, with over 90 percent indicating that they were doing just that.  Of those who are employed, 22% are working fewer hours and another 5% are unable to work any hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Central Virginians indicated that they had less than a 20 percent chance of losing their job in the next three months.  The results were consistent by locality and respondent age groups.
  • 60% of small business owners report that the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative effect on their business. One third applied for an SBA Disaster Loan as of the time of the survey.
  • Most Central Virginians (70%) reported having received a stimulus check but varied in how much support the check will actually provide their household. For in two-fifths of these respondents, the stimulus money won’t sustain their financial well-being for even a month. For one-fifth of these respondents, the stimulus will help them sustain financial well-being for one to three months. Respondents also varied in how they planned to allocate the stimulus funds. The most favored uses of the stimulus included putting it towards savings (36%) and paying monthly bills (35%). The highest priority differed by age group, with the oldest (38%) and youngest (48%) age groups saving the funds, while those in the 35 to 64 years age group highest use was paying monthly bills (46%).

Mental Health

  • Most Central Virginians have maintained their mental and emotional well being during the coronavirus pandemic.  A majority (63%) reported only slight impacts, with nearly equal proportions reporting serious impacts (17%) and no effect (18%).
  • The most common activities that people reported doing in the last two weeks to cope with social isolation included: communicating with friends and relatives (73%), exercise (65%), keeping a regular routine (53%), and limiting exposure to media (51%).
  • In terms of adverse impacts, the most often reported side effects from the coronavirus pandemic were having trouble sleeping (50%) followed by an inability to concentrate (38%).
  • Many central Virginians have gone out of their way to help others during the pandemic.  Nearly everyone (95%) reported trying to contact friends and neighbors to see how they were doing, others donated food, time, or money to help local charities (39%) or get groceries for those who need help (28%).
For more information see the detailed report:

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Coronavirus Impacts Survey, March-April 2020

UVA’s Center for Survey Research conducted a survey of the BeHeardCVA panel members from March 25 to April 1, 2020, to gather information about the public’s impressions of the coronavirus in our community. BeHeardCVA is the first survey panel in the state of Virginia and is designed to represent the diverse people of Central Virginia, including Charlottesville City and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties. Overall 579 panelists responded.

Central Virginians See Numerous Threats from the Coronavirus Amid Growing Concerns

Respondents were generally more concerned about a widespread breakout of the coronavirus in the United States (78% very concerned) than they were for such an occurrence in Central Virginia (60% very concerned). Yet, nearly one in six respondents have a friend or relative somewhere who has tested positive for the coronavirus or shown significant symptoms. A high degree of concern was also expressed for the ability of U.S. hospitals to keep up with healthcare demands, with 73% very concerned and 21% somewhat concerned that hospitals will not be able to meet demand.

Great Unease Regarding Near-term and Long-term Economic Impacts

A majority (58%) of Central Virginians were very concerned that the coronavirus will have a long-lasting negative impact on each the U.S. economy and local economy. More than one-third of working respondents have been affected by the downturn: about 3% of respondents indicated that they had lost their job due to coronavirus, 8% indicated being unable to work any hours during this time and another 26% were working fewer hours than typical. More than half of respondents who are currently employed indicated they had at least a 10 percent chance of losing their job in the next three months.

State and Local Governments Trusted More Than Federal Government

Confidence in the government response varied considerably with 74% indicating that the U.S. government was not doing enough to combat the coronavirus compared with only 30% and 27% having dissatisfaction with Virginia and local government response, respectively.

Trust Varied Considerably Among Media and Other Information Sources

Respondents indicated that their doctor was the most trusted information source with 94% either trusting completely or mostly. Local public health officials, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization also garnered trust from respondents.  Information sources and media outlets that were not trusted at all or only somewhat trusted included Fox News, President Donald Trump (with 72.3% not trusting), social media contacts, and The Federal Coronavirus Task Force.

Central Virginians Vigorously Approve Mitigation Strategies

We asked respondents the degree to which they approved (or disapproved) of 12 different mitigation efforts that are currently in place or on the table. Four strategies received 70% or higher strongly approve responses. They included home quarantine of suspected cases, restricting restaurants to only take-out and delivery, international travel bans from high-risk areas to the U.S., international travel bans from the U.S. to high-risk areas. The highest sentiment for strongly disapprove (44%) occurred for the possible strategy of hospitalizing all cases, regardless of the severity of symptoms, until no longer contagious.

Area Residents Have Eagerly Adopted Important Lifestyle Changes

The top four lifestyle changes followed by respondents to keep themselves and others safe were: avoiding public spaces and large gatherings (92%), washing hands or using hand sanitizer several times a day (92%), canceling or postponing social activities (91%), and avoiding eating at restaurants (77%).

Work from Home a Viable Solution for Many Respondents

A large majority of Central Virginians (80%) indicate they have the type of job where working from home is an option. Moreover, 90% of those who can work from home is currently doing so. Nearly one in five had to make new purchases (such as software, computers, printers) to accommodate working from home. Internet traffic remains a concern of those working from home, with nearly 25% reporting interruptions some of the time and 7% reporting more frequent disruptions.

More detail can be found in the full report

Any local resident can join BeHeardCVA and be part of future surveys. Just visit BeHeardCVA.org. BeHeardCVA is a community engagement initiative of the UVA Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

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Broadband Internet Access, Telephone, and Television Preferences, May 2019

We asked, and 75 percent of our BeHeardCVA panelists responded regarding access to broadband (high-speed) internet and preferences for phone service and television viewing. Highlights from the survey include:

  • About one-third of respondents indicated that their internet connection was very reliable, and two-thirds said that their speed was “good” or “excellent.”  Nonetheless, 55 percent indicated that they felt there was a shortage of high-speed internet providers at their location. 

  • There were substantial differences in respondent’s perception of whether or not there was a shortage of high-speed internet provides near their home.  Specifically, those living in Charlottesville were much less likely (42 percent) to perceive a shortage of high-speed providers compared with those in Albemarle County (58 percent) and respondents from outlying locations (73 percent).

  • The top 5 activities for home internet use were 1) communication (95 percent), 2) general research (93 percent), 3) Shopping (93 percent), 4) other entertainment (78 percent), and 5) social media (76 percent).  Almost half of all respondents used their internet service to work from home for an employer.

  • Half of all respondents reported having a landline phone in their home.  The incidence of a landline phone varied considerably by age, with the youngest panelists much less likely to have a landline phone than older respondents.  Half of the respondents with landline phone planned to get rid of them in the future.

  • The most often reported mode of watching television by respondents was online streaming subscription such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. The next highest percentage was for viewing by cable (39 percent) and Satellite such as Direct TV and DISH Network (26 percent).  Nearly one in four reported watching television by antenna.

More detail can be found in the full report

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Social Capital Survey, August 2019

The objective of the 2019 Social Capital survey was to capture panelists’ social connections within and across local communities.  The survey measured everything from neighborhood characteristics, participation in various groups and associations, political activism, the variety of volunteer activities, and to the diversity of friendship patterns.

Data on civic engagement, social cohesion, and other aspects of social capital have been collected for many years and for a variety of purposes.  Information gleaned has been used to document conditions of policy importance, enlighten the public more generally, and reinforce social science research.  One such activity was the Current Population Survey’s (CPS) “Volunteering and Civic Life Supplement,” collected in September 2017.  The CPS supplement was a national survey conducted to obtain information about the number of individuals in the U.S. involved in unpaid volunteer activities, and to measure the frequency with which individuals volunteer. The survey also identifies the types of organizations that facilitate volunteerism, and the types of activities in which volunteers participate. Where possible, comparisons are made between results from the BeHeardCVA survey and the CPS supplement results for all of Virginia.

Summary Highlights

  • A variety of categories were selected by respondents for the duration of residency and location of their residence on the rural-urban continuum.  Nearly half (48.3 %) of BeHeardCVA members have lived at their current address for more than 10 years.  Most respondents (55.9 %) characterized the area in which they live as either urban or suburban.
  • Respondents were asked to rate their area of residence on a scale from 1 (the worst possible community in which to live) to 10 (best possible community).  The overall average rating was 7.95 suggesting strong satisfaction, and when the rating is examined by geography, the rating is nearly identical between Charlottesville City (7.99), Albemarle County (7.97), and the outlying area of Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson Counties (7.84).
  • More than half of respondents (52.2%) said that they knew 6 or more neighbors on a first-name basis.
  • When asked about membership in various civic and volunteer organizations, the top 5 responses were health and sporting clubs (58.4 %), religious organizations (45.5 %), neighborhood or homeowner associations (43.9 %), professional societies (38.2 %), and hobby, garden, or recreation groups (29.7 %).
  • Regardless of age, a high percentage (70 percent or more) of respondents indicated that they had volunteered time during the past year to organizations such as charities, schools, hospitals, religious organizations, neighborhood associations, and civic or other groups.  These volunteerism results are essentially the opposite of what was found in the 2017 CPS Supplement survey for the entire state of Virginia, where 69 percent indicated not doing volunteer work in the past year.
  • Men and women had similar preferences for the types of organizations that they volunteered for, however, their popularity did vary.  Each gender selected the same organization (disease-related causes) as having the highest rate of volunteerism (39.3 % for men and 40.6 % for women).  Political advocacy was selected second most often by men (37.4 %) and third by female respondents (31.7 %).  Environment or conservation groups were the second most volunteered by female respondents (33.7 %), but came in fourth for men (25.2 %).
  • Most respondents (53.4 %) indicated having talked with or spent time with non-residing family members or friends daily.  This compares with 62.1 percent reported by CPS for Virginians in 2017.
  • More than half of all respondents (53.8 %) reported either daily or weekly interactions with people from a racial, ethnic, or cultural background that was different than theirs.  This compares with 58.7 percent in the 2017 CPS supplement, where more than 43 percent of Virginians had daily interactions.
  • Respondents from outlying localities were less likely to have posted views about political, societal, or local issues on the internet or social media (57.8 % “not at all”) than were those from Albemarle (49.5 % “not at all”) or Charlottesville (45.6 % “not at all”).   Respondents from outlying areas, however, did report the highest percentage of everyday posting (9.7 %) when compared with other localities.

More detail can be found in the full report

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