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Press Release · July 27, 2020

Most Californians Worry About Illness and Finances Due to Covid-19; Overwhelming Majority Believe Masks Should Be Worn in Public

Two-thirds of Californians Support Black Lives Matter Movement

Note: The findings below are selected findings from PPIC’s latest statewide survey. PPIC will release the full survey report later this week, on Wednesday, July 29. The survey report will be available on the PPIC Statewide Survey page.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 27, 2020—As the number of known COVID-19 cases in California increases, solid majorities of Californians are worried about illness and about personal finances, with concerns varying by race and ethnicity. An overwhelming majority of Californians believe people in their area should always wear a mask when they go out in public and may be near others.

Asked how worried they are, if at all, about themselves or someone in their family getting sick from COVID-19, more than three in four Californians say they are either very (41%) or somewhat (36%) worried. At the same time, seven in ten Californians say they are either very (35%) or somewhat (36%) worried about the pandemic having a negative impact on their own or their family’s finances.

Nearly three in four Californians (74%) say people in their area should always wear a mask in public as a means of preventing COVID-19 spread, including solid majorities across regions (79% San Francisco Bay Area, 77% Los Angeles, 75% Orange/San Diego, 72% Inland Empire, 64% Central Valley). Only 3 percent say that people should never wear a mask in public.

“An overwhelming majority of Californians say that people in their local area should always wear masks—and few say never—when they go to public places where they may be near others,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Concerns about health and personal finances due to COVID-19 vary by race and ethnicity. Latinos (61%) are more likely to say they are very worried about someone in their family getting sick than are Asian Americans (37%), African Americans (28%), and whites (28%). As to COVID-19 having a negative impact on their own or their family’s personal finances, 56 percent of Latinos say they are very worried, compared with 31 percent of both Asian Americans and African Americans and 22 percent of whites.

“Latinos more than any other racial and ethnic group say they are very worried about the personal health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” Baldassare said.

Optimism about California’s economic outlook remains very low. Only 19 percent of Californians expect good times financially in the state during the next 12 months. This is unchanged from April and represents the smallest share since the Great Recession.

PPIC’s latest survey also sheds light on Californians’ views on racial issues. A solid majority of Californians (60%) say racism is a big problem in the US today, while another 25 percent say it is somewhat of a problem. African Americans are most likely to say racism is a problem (86% big problem, 8% somewhat of a problem), followed by Latinos (71% big, 19% somewhat), Asian Americans (57% big, 30% somewhat), and whites (50% big, 31% somewhat). Across regions, overwhelming majorities say racism in the US is a problem today (Los Angeles 67% big, 22% somewhat; San Francisco Bay Area 61% big, 25% somewhat; Orange/San Diego 58% big, 26% somewhat; Inland Empire 55% big, 28% somewhat; Central Valley 51% big, 28% somewhat).

Two-thirds of Californians support the Black Lives Matter movement, with 31 percent saying strongly support and 37 percent saying somewhat support. African Americans (58% strongly support, 27% somewhat support) and Latinos (29% strongly, 50% somewhat) are more likely than Asian Americans (27% strongly, 42% somewhat) and whites (30% strongly, 28% somewhat) to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Across regions, support is higher in Los Angeles (33% strongly, 42% somewhat) and the San Francisco Bay Area (39% strongly, 32% somewhat) than in Central Valley (20% strongly, 45% somewhat), the Inland Empire (28% strongly, 36% somewhat), and Orange/San Diego (27% strongly, 33% somewhat).

“Strong majorities of Californians support the Black Lives Matter movement, while racial disparities are highly evident in views on discrimination,” Baldassare said.

About the Survey

The Californians and the Environment survey is supported with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation.

The findings presented above are based on responses from 1,561 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.4 percent for the total unweighted sample. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from July 8–17, 2020. For the full methodology, see this Crosstabs, Time Trends, and Methodology document.

Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.

The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.