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Utahns approve of state’s coronavirus management. Feds? Not so much

FILE - In this April 21, 2020 file photo Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a news conference in South Jordan, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File)

This story originally appeared in the Deseret News. Please visit the story there for the full details, including graphics. 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Less than one-third of Utahns now say the federal government responded appropriately to the coronavirus pandemic.

And a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows only half approve of President Donald Trump’s performance regarding the outbreak that has claimed more than 110,000 lives in the U.S.

While the approval numbers for Trump and the federal government are down from previous surveys, residents who say the government overreacted continues to climb.

As for Utah, voters consistently give the state high marks for its response the virus.

The latest poll found that 59% of residents say Utah acted appropriately and in a timely manner, while 26% say it acted too late and didn’t do enough to slow the spread of the disease. Another 15% say the state overreacted and put too many restrictions in place.

“A majority of Utahns clearly believe that government acted too late and they left it in the hands of the state of Utah and they believe Utah is doing it right,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah.

“That is a consistent message from the state of Utah,” he said. “They want to be able to handle the problems in their own way and they believe our elected officials have approached this in the right way.”

Utah has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases since Gov. Gary Herbert eased restrictions that allowed some businesses to reopen and other social activities resume while maintaining social distancing.

State health officials reported 12,066 total cases Sunday, including 268 new cases. That’s down from a single-day record of 546 new cases on Saturday. Deaths now number 121.

Herbert kept the public health risk status at orange or moderate risk in Salt Lake City, Bluff and Mexican Hat, and yellow or low risk in all other areas of the state.

The poll shows only 32% of Utahns say the federal government acted appropriately and in a timely manner, an 11-point drop since mid-April. Another 51% say it acted too late and didn’t do enough to slow the spread of the virus, up 6 points from the April poll.

That’s split pretty evenly between an increase in the number saying the government was too late and the number who say it overreacted, said pollster Scott Rasmussen.

“I think it probably has to do with growing weariness of the pandemic and related lockdowns,” he said.

Those who say the federal government overreacted climbed to 17% in the new poll, up 5 points from the previous survey.

A national survey Rasmussen conducted in late March, found that 58% of voters thought the economic shutdowns would be essentially over by late May.

“Now, not only are they continuing, but many don’t see any end in sight,” Rasmussen said. “In fact, on a national basis, half think the shutdowns will continue at least three more months.”

The poll shows 50% of Utahns approve of how Trump has handled the outbreak — a 7-point decline since April — and 47% disapprove of his performance.

Rasmussen said the drop is likely tied to the declining perceptions of the federal response.

“However, I’d point out that the president’s overall job approval is back to where it was before the pandemic. So he got a bounce but the bounce is gone,” he said.

Rasmussen surveyed 1,000 Utah registered voters May 25-31. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States