UO COVID-19 Survey Says: Disbelief And Myths Guide Choices Of Many Oregonians

Jan 8, 2021

A recent survey conducted by researchers with the University of Oregon asked a random sample of state residents about their stance on masking, social distancing and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Results indicate Oregonians are not 'all in' on prevention tactics. 

Page #3 from the study: COVID-19 Masking, Social Distancing and Vaccines: Results from a random sample of Oregon residents.
Credit UO Institute For Policy Research and Engagement

638 people were surveyed--from both urban and rural parts of the state. Associate Professor Benjamin Clark authored the study and found 11% of respondents regularly gather, maskless, in large groups.

“Some of these individuals don’t think the pandemic is as big a problem as it’s made out to be,” said Clark. “They don’t believe that it’s any worse than the flu.”

Clark says a quarter of the respondents said they will not get the vaccine. And about 40% said, ‘yes.’

“But there’s this middle group of people that say ‘maybe.’ They are vaccine-hesitant.”

Clark said those are the folks who need to hear public health messaging that dispels conspiracy theories and boosts science.

The study found that overall, Oregonians are taking on the pandemic in pretty similar ways. They do appear to have a lot of trust in the Oregon Health Authority and county public health agencies. There also seems to be a uniform trust of public broadcasting as messengers.

Benjamin Clark is Associate Professor of Public Administration and co-director of the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon. He co-authored the study with Bob Parker.
Credit Benjamin Clark

Clark says Oregon Health Authority and public health departments need to take misconceptions about what COVID-19 is and isn’t --head on. He says many have already begun sharing Fact versus Fiction campaigns.

“The half-life of the lie is much longer than the half-life of the truth,” he said. “That’s where we need to take, from a public health standpoint, need to take it head on and don’t just assume that people are gonna spread the good news as fast as they spread the bad news.”

The study found 90% of Oregonians know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.    

Click here to read the the full "COVID-19 Masking, Social Distancing and Vaccines: Results from a random sample of Oregon residents" report.