COVID-19 is revealing divisions in our society. As one older woman from Elgin described when asked what she is most concerned about with the economy reopening, it is the “strange confusion of a society divided in responses to scientific vs political information.” Particularly the mask, a simple tool to limit (not prevent) the spread of aerosolized droplets, (similar to coughing in your sleeve when in public), has become a symbol of one’s beliefs around the virus and the economy reopening.
The PRT conducted a survey on how people are feeling about the economy reopening. We received 178 responses. 45% were from Sonoita & Elgin and 38% from Patagonia. 17% were from Nogales, Tucson, or other places of residence. The respondents were overwhelmingly female (69%) and 51 years and older (86%)
When asked if they wear masks when they go out, a majority of respondents replied ‘yes.’ In Sonoita and Elgin 84% wear a mask all or some of the time. 16% do not wear one. Of those who do not wear a mask, their reasons were that masks are not necessary, are ineffective, don’t protect you from getting the virus, and masks symbolize “excessive fear.” One man from Elgin, 51-60 years old, wrote, “I have a better chance of getting hit by a bus then getting COVID in our area.” Among those who live in Patagonia 91% wear a mask all or some of the time and 9% do not.
Of those who replied to the question why they wear masks, 65 people (45%) wrote it is to protect others and themselves.
85 people are staying home except for essential activities, and 53 people are only sometimes going out for non-essential activities (83% in total). Respondents from Sonoita, Elgin and Patagonia shared self-isolating behavior. They differed, however, in their feelings about businesses reopening. 42% of respondents from Sonoita/Elgin felt anxious versus 63% of Patagonia residents. Respondents seem most uncomfortable dining in a restaurant (57%) and going to a gym (64%).
168 people responded when asked what they are most concerned about with the economy reopening. 65 people (39%) commented about the fear of a resurgence in cases, or a second wave. The next mosst common concern was people not following the precautionary measures to help curb the spread of the virus.
When advising businesses on how to reopen, 157 people responded. 45% wanted employees to wear masks. In addition, 43 people said they wanted social distancing measures in place and enforced by businesses.
The survey revealed that, among the respondents, those who are choosing not to wear a mask are in the minority. Of the 23 people who said they do not wear a mask, all but one of them are going out for more than just essential activities.
Though this is a small number of people, it reflects the divisiveness over masks and how it influences behavior. As one Patagonia respondent commented, her main concern is, “People who just don’t care if they are contagious.”