In the latest Statesman Power Poll, most participating members said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine, and plan to scale back social gatherings during the holidays. But members were more split on whether to reopen schools for in-person instruction in the spring.
The Statesman Power Poll surveys influential leaders in the Central Texas community every month about local and national topics. More than 800 members were surveyed and more than 200 participated in the November poll.
The first question we asked members was: If approved for safety and made widely available, do you plan on getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Most voting members, 80.1%, said “yes.” Just 6.6.% said “no” but 13.3% said “unsure.”
In November, multiple vaccine producers made headlines touting high effectiveness rates. In Central Texas, the Austin Regional Clinic participated in the Pfizer vaccine trial, which the company’s CEO reports to be 90% effective in initial results. More than 400 other Austinites participated in the Moderna vaccine trial, which reported a preliminary 94.5% efficacy rate. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced distribution plan for when vaccines become available, prioritizing health care workers, and those at greatest risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
The second poll question surveyed members about their holiday plans: In comparison to previous years, do you plan to limit or cancel social gatherings during the holidays?
The vast majority of respondents, 84.4%, said “yes.” Only 3.3% said “unsure” while 12.3% said “no.”
Before Thanksgiving, health officials urged caution on gathering indoors with people from other households. Texas had already seen an increase in both cases and hospitalizations due to coronavirus leading into the holiday weekend. Austin health officials are asking those who gathered with others on Thanksgiving to get tested. Dr. Mark Escott, the interim health authority, says the effect of the holiday gatherings should show up in coronavirus data around the first weekend of December.
The final question on the poll asked members to weigh in on school reopenings: Do you believe schools should reopen for in-person instruction in the spring?
Nearly half of voters, 49.3%, answered “yes.“ More than a third, 36.5%, answered “unsure,” and only 14.2% chose “no.”
The Austin school district moved to 100% virtual learning the week after Thanksgiving in an effort to reduce contact and the spread of coronavirus. The district is also offering free testing to students, faculty and staff to identify positive cases. The district has denied more than 900 requests from teachers and staff to work remotely in the spring.