Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Virginia Voters Say Biden Would Deal Better With COVID-19
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

New Christopher Newport poll shows residents question President Trump’s push to reopen

NEWPORT NEWS-Before Tuesday’s debate, Virginia voters weighed in on several topics. The latest poll from Christopher Newport University outlined how residents feel about COVID-19 and the nation’s response, as well as how the state government handled things. 

On the national level, Virginia residents aren’t happy with how President Donald Trump dealt with COVID-19. According to the poll, 36% supported President Trump’s decisions, while 48% believed Democratic nominee Joe Biden would have done better. And there were some who didn’t like either option, with 11% saying neither one was the answer. The main part concerning residents was Trump’s push to reopen everything. 

“A majority [says] the country is moving too quickly to loosen restrictions,” CNU’s staff report said. 

Fifty-four percent of those polled felt things needed to slow down. Meanwhile, 41% believed we actually need to open up faster. The divide was pretty clearly split along party lines, with 86% of Democrats supporting a slower approach and 74% of Republicans hoping to speed things up. 

When it came to Gov. Ralph Northam’s approach in Virginia, the vote was a little more evenly divided. Forty-seven percent supported his pace, while 29% want the Commonwealth to open up quicker. Another 29% actually want to go backwards towards a lockdown. 

Over the last month, CNU’s Watson Center staff conducted 796 interviews for the poll with people who voted in at least two general elections over the last four years. If you got a call from a 757 number and didn’t answer, chances are that was the Watson staff. They called 163 people on landlines and 633 on cell phones. 

Very few want schools fully reopened

Another interesting part of the poll involved Virginia schools. Earlier this week, we reported on the Virginia Health Dept’s new tool, designed to help districts with decisions about reopening. Their Pandemic Metrics Dashboard provides details about COVID-19 cases in each specific city or county district. That includes current cases and how the number’s changed over the last seven days. There’s also a color-coded map of the different districts, so you can see what neighboring schools are dealing with.

Overall, 46% of Virginia voters polled want to see some type of hybrid model. That means students going back to in-person classes at least two days a week, with two or three spent in virtual learning. Only 23% support going back to a fully in-person structure and 28% want classes to be all virtual this year. 

Most people just aren’t ready yet to send their kids back to a fully in-person setup. Part of that is due to the news last week that a teenager in the Southside Health District died of COVID-19. That marks the first person under 18 to die from the virus in Virginia. Southside Health District covers Brunswick, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties. The state’s overall rising death toll also raises concerns for state officials. Parents are also concerned over the fact children now make up 10% of COVID-19 cases in the US. That’s up from 2% in April, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added to that on Monday, saying the US started seeing more cases in children once districts started reopening in September.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at brian@couriernewsroom.com.