January 17, 2022 6:00am

Broward Leaders Want More COVID Testing, Express Unease with State’s Lax Attitude

17th Fort Lauderdale Power Poll Indicates Wan Support for Governor’s Tepid COVID Measures

Photo of Sallie James
By Sallie James
Fort Lauderdale, FL Correspondent

As the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID continues to relentlessly tear through communities, concerns over accessible free testing and the health of school children and teachers remains front and center.

Our survey takers worried about the availability of COVID tests and the continuing spread of omicron as the coronavirus saga continues to take yet another turn.

Our 17th Fort Lauderdale Power Poll asked Broward leaders if they felt Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was doing everything he could to keep Floridians healthy: their answers were largely critical, but not wholly. Feelings were mixed about DeSantis’ claim that asymptomatic people need not get tested. And nearly half of the respondents were neutral when asked if teachers should receive incentives to stay in the classroom during these trying times.

In our first Power Poll question, we asked Broward leaders how they felt about the Governor’s stance on asymptomatic testing. DeSantis has discouraged asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to the virus from getting tested for COVID. Half the respondents said they believe asymptomatic people should get tested if they feel the need, but it wasn’t a slam dunk.

Fifty percent of respondents agreed with testing, with 20 percent of those respondents strongly agreeing. Another 40 percent disagreed with the need to test, with 20 percent of those respondents strongly disagreeing. An additional 10 percent were neutral on the issue.

In our second Power Poll question, we noted the hours-long lines that have been forming at free COVID test sites around the state and particularly in Broward County. We asked our survey takers if they believed the state of Florida was doing enough to provide free COVID testing for anyone who needs a test. The answer was a resounding “no.”

Sixty percent of the respondents disagreed, with half of those survey takers strongly disagreeing. The remaining 40 percent agreed that testing was adequate, with 10 percent of those who answered strongly agreeing.

Our third Power Poll question focused on DeSantis' continued stance to keep Florida schools open, while prohibiting mask requirements, despite the contagious omicron variant.

A majority of survey takers disagreed with DeSantis’ stance, but the answers were closely divided. Sixty percent disagreed with his actions, with 50 percent of those who disagreed voicing strong opposition. The remaining 40 percent agreed with DeSantis’ directives, with 20 percent of those who agreed strongly agreeing.

Our fourth Power Poll question noted that teachers are struggling mightily in this challenging environment. We asked Broward leaders if they would support some kind of incentive for teachers to make teaching more palatable in these trying times.

Their answers were tepid, with 40 percent of respondents voicing support, and 30 percent of those who voiced support strongly supporting an incentive. But an equal 40 percent of respondents were neutral about possible incentives, while 20 percent outright disagreed. And of those who disagreed, 10 percent strongly disagreed.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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