Even before the recent surge of coronavirus cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, North Texans expressed caution about returning to their pre-coronavirus lives. And it’s going to take more than public policy and business-instituted rules for many people to feel comfortable when they’re out in public — especially with the pandemic now straining hospital capacity in the region.
If there is one word that characterizes how most people want their fellow Texans to act around other people during these challenging times, that word is “respectful.” According to a recent poll conducted for Texas 2036, a group focused on the state’s economic future, two-thirds of North Texans (66 percent) think the risks of returning to their pre-coronavirus lives are large (37 percent) or moderate (29 percent).
What concerns more respondents than anything else? Two things: people who gather in large groups without wearing masks or social distancing (62 percent said they are very concerned about this), and leaders who share mixed or conflicting information about the coronavirus (60 percent are very concerned).
Majorities said they would be at least somewhat more likely to go out in public with safety protocols and government requirements in place. However, those protocols do not have the universality of support that suggests they would make a difference in people’s behavior. In other words, while most people say better-defined safety protocols would make them more likely to go out, that sentiment lacks enough intensity to be impactful. Further, at least a third say the changes would have no impact on their desire to go out in public.