Survey: 545 Hawaii locals share what they think of COVID-19

Coronavirus

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A statewide survey commissioned by the Hawaii Department of Health revealed what Hawaii residents think about COVID-19.

Survey results shared that 93 percent consider COVID-19 to be a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” health concern, and three quarters (75 percent) believe it poses a real danger or threat to themselves or others living in their household.

However, only 44 percent of respondents say they are practicing social distancing guidelines suggested by government officials and healthcare professionals “all of the time.”

Twenty-five percent say they don’t feel threatened by the virus. They listed these reasons to why:

  • They are following CDC guidelines
  • They believe they’re healthy and unlikely to get sick
  • They do not venture outside their home much
  • They do not trust reports about the severity of the disease

There were notable differences in perceptions between the neighbor islands and Oahu, with 81 percent of neighbor islanders saying they consider COVID-19 to be a “very serious” concern, versus 69 percent of Oahu residents surveyed.

“The findings provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of our efforts to educate our community about the disease. This is especially important as we begin to reopen parks, businesses and other places where people congregate,” said Bruce Anderson, Director of Health. “For our state to fully reopen and start the road to economic recovery, all of our residents must recognize the seriousness of the pandemic and be willing to make necessary lifestyle changes to prevent a second wave of increased cases.”

The survey results validate that the DOH is reaching a majority —or 95 percent—of Hawai‘i residents with its messages related to COVID-19 mitigation practices. Respondents who were able to recall DOH’s public health messaging are more likely to adhere to social distancing guidelines “all of the time.” Those who remembered a public service announcement featuring Frank De Lima—part of the DOH’s “Stay Healthy, Stay at Home” campaign—are more likely to recognize COVID-19 as a threat to their households and to correctly identify symptoms associated with the virus.

Statewide, nearly half (44 percent) of those polled believe they are following social distancing guidelines “all of the time,” while slightly more than half (51 percent) say they do so “most of the time.” Still, when presented with a list of suggested actions, 26 percent of those polled say they are not standing six feet or farther apart “all of the time.”  Among those who are not routinely following social distancing guidelines, 21 percent do not recall DOH messages.

“These findings underscore the importance of outreach and education, especially now during this time of uncertainty and changing recommendations,” Anderson said. “We will continue to invest in public health education and assess the effectiveness of our efforts as we head into the state’s recovery and reopening phase.”

DOH’s COVID-19 campaigns include public service announcements on television, radio, digital and print that promote everyday prevention, physical activity, connectedness, mental health, and family strengthening. Additional efforts are underway focusing on younger audiences and other groups with lower levels of awareness and compliance with social distancing guidelines.

DOH commissioned Anthology Research to conduct a quantitative study of Hawaii residents using both phone interviews and online surveys.

A total of 545 surveys were conducted from April 17 to 23, 2020. Respondents were screened to ensure they were at least 18 years of age and a full-time Hawaii resident. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 4.20 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.


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