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Coronavirus in Florida

Survey: Majority of Floridians support closing schools, statewide mask mandate

Republicans were less likely to support mask mandates or school closures.

Floridians still have concerns about COVID-19, and most would like to see public schools closed for fall, survey results from the University of South Florida show. 

USF’s School of Public Affairs released its first set of results from the survey Thursday. The statewide survey measured general opinions in regard to the coronavirus pandemic and related policy issues and was conducted July 30 through Aug. 10. 

Coronavirus concerns are still at the forefront  of most Floridians’ minds with 55% of Floridians believing the worst of COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview, and fewer than 25% believing it is. 

The survey also showed nearly three-quarters of respondents support closing public schools for the fall semester, about 73%, and about 54% indicated they would “strongly support” doing so. 

There is also significant support for a statewide mask mandate with 87% of Floridians supporting the idea including 73% who said they would “strongly support” the measure. 

About 82% of Floridians also believe prevention guidelines emphasized by public health officials, such as social distancing and wearing masks, are effective at slowing the virus’ spread.

The survey also touched on the upcoming election season, showing that 46% of Floridians do not think political candidates should hold any rallies this Fall. Another 42% approve of rallies if they can be held with proper guidelines in place to prevent spread. 

Desire for stronger mitigation strategies goes beyond the political realm, too with 85% of Floridians supporting stricter limits on public gatherings, 66% supporting reclosing bars and restaurants, 63% supporting closing worship centers and 60% supporting closing beaches and public parks. 

The survey also took into account respondents’ political leanings.

The survey found that while the majorities of both Democrats and Republicans supported stronger mitigation efforts, Republicans are more likely to believe the worst of COVID-19 is behind us. Republicans are also less likely to believe public health guidance is effective in mitigation.

It also found Democrats are more supportive of a statewide mask mandate, closing public schools and placing stricter limits on public gatherings.

Written By

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at kelly@floridapolitics.com.

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