While they welcome news of the state’s reopening, most community leaders in Georgia say government still has to be vigilant with vaccinations against the coronavirus.
In the latest Power Poll, about 68% of community leaders said that, on the path to a return to normalcy, government’s role should be to keep urging people of all eligible groups and ages to be vaccinated.
Power Poll is part of a nationwide survey of community leaders on important issues in the news, including the reopening of many states, including Georgia, after more than a year of government-imposed restrictions and mandates.
The survey does not have the precision of a scientific poll and is meant only to provide insight into the thinking of leaders in metro Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah.
This latest poll was taken from June 14 to June 17. Three questions were emailed to 731 business, community, and government leaders, 142 or 19% of whom responded.
Asked about the role government should play moving forward, another 16% of respondents said it needs to stay the course on easing COVID-19 restrictions, so the economy stays open and healthy.
About 9% said the private sector should be encouraged to do what is in the best interest of businesses and their customers, and about 6% said government should urge the use of common sense, including masks and social distancing in certain circumstances.
Jeff Graham, executive director of the advocacy group Georgia Equality, wrote in an email to Power Poll: “I worry that Georgia’s vaccination rate continues to lag well behind the levels needed to ensure we do not see flare-ups and the development of variant strains.”
A majority (56%) said they believe that the declining number of COVID-19 cases and deaths is a welcome sign that Georgia has turned the corner in the pandemic fight.
Another 29% said the move to a more public lifestyle is understandable, given the collective trauma over the last year, but also might be a bit premature.
A small number (8%) said the reopening could be potentially risky, given the chance of possible COVID-19 flare-ups and the possible spread of new variants. But 7% said the reopening was overdue because the pandemic was not as bad as many feared or believed.
Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said she’s concerned.
“Georgia’s rush to ‘normalcy’ has left many of our residents acting as if the pandemic is no longer a public health danger,” Franklin wrote in an email to Power Poll.
Community leaders were mostly positive about their community’s response to Georgia’s reopening. Forty-five percent said most people appear to be taking appropriate precautions as they resume their old routines. Only 16% said they’ve seen some risky behaviors and worry about that, given COVID’s seriousness.