Majority of Texans Think Coronavirus Response Is Going Badly, Poll Shows

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order requiring most Texans to wear masks in public.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order requiring most Texans to wear masks in public. Wiki Commons
As infections of the novel coronavirus surge across North Texas and around the state, a majority of Texans now say efforts to control the spread of the virus are going badly, according to a poll released this week.

The poll, conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, showed that 51% of Texans think efforts in the U.S. to deal with the spread of COVID-19 are going badly, a sharp uptick from the 29% who said the same in April.

Texans' opinions broke along ideological lines: 50% of those who identified as conservatives said efforts to curb the virus were going "somewhat well," while 60% of self-described liberals said they were going "very badly."

Those results come at a time when North Texas' coronavirus numbers are looking increasingly dire. Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county had seen its largest-ever single-day uptick in hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The county had 105 coronavirus-related hospitalizations Monday, a 16% increase over the day before.

Dallas County health officials also reported 1,214 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, the county's largest-ever single-day increase. That total comes three days after the county's single-day new case total crossed the 1,000 mark for the first time and just nine days after the total crossed the 500 mark for the first time.

In a statement, Jenkins said the county's climbing hospitalization rate is particularly worrisome.

"Think of hospitalizations as the sickest of the sick, the part of the iceberg above the water." - Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins

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"Think of hospitalizations as the sickest of the sick, the part of the iceberg above the water," Jenkins said. "In order for the numbers to increase dramatically with hospitalizations, the amount of the iceberg underneath the water must grow exponentially. This is what is happening in the community where we are seeing rampant spread."

Texans were split on Gov. Greg Abbott's handling of the pandemic, according to the poll, with 49% saying they approved either strongly or somewhat and 41% saying they disapproved either somewhat or strongly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, approval of the governor's response to the pandemic broke along party lines, with 88% of Republicans saying they approved either somewhat or strongly and 75% of Democrats saying they disapproved either somewhat or strongly.

The poll was an internet survey of 1,200 registered voters. It was conducted between June 19 and June 29, meaning it doesn't account for public opinion on action Abbott took last week. Thursday, Abbott issued an executive order requiring anyone in a county with 20 or more active cases of COVID-19 to wear a mask in public.

In a statement, Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said the poll results show that Texans are blaming President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott for mismanaging the crisis.

“It didn’t have to be this way. It never had to be this way," Garcia said. "Competent leadership that listens to doctors and experts would have led Texas out of the worst of this mess, instead we were put in danger by President Trump and Governor Abbott’s insecurities and ineptitude. Texans are noticing and polling indicates that they are holding those who botched the response at the Federal and State [levels] accountable."
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Silas Allen has been the Dallas Observer's news editor since March 2019. Before coming to Dallas, he worked as a reporter and editor at the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. He's a Missouri native and a graduate of the University of Missouri.
Contact: Silas Allen