Oregonians largely trust health experts for Covid information, split on sending kids to school, study finds

A nurse cares for a Covid patient in the intensive care unit at Salem Hospital on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Most Oregonians trust scientists and doctors above all sources of information about Covid, while parents are split on having their children attend only in-person school this fall, a statewide survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center found. 

The organization surveyed 1,154 Oregon residents 18 and older for their perceptions of Covid from Aug. 9-17 – prior to the Pfizer Covid vaccine’s FDA approval and many mask and vaccine mandates set last month, according to a Monday news release.

The survey found 80% of Oregonians consider scientists and doctors to be the most trusted sources of information for topics like Covid, though only 60% said they rely the most on science agencies. Media outlets were a “mid-tier source in terms of trust,” the news release said.

Half of parents in Oregon reported that their children will only attend school in person this fall. About one in ten said it will be a hybrid model, while 13% said they will homeschool their children.

Just 6% of Oregonians believed Covid was fiction, and another 16% considered it a concept or belief. About one in three high school graduates – and about one in ten college graduates – reported thinking of Covid as a fiction, concept or belief. 

Five out of six Oregonians said they had experienced physical or emotional impacts from Covid, with 44% of residents saying they were significantly or dramatically impacted.

One in six reported initially being hesitant to get vaccinated but have done it since or planned to do so. Among parents, 56% said they would vaccinate their young child with an FDA-approved shot if available. Oregonians’ willingness to get young children vaccinated for Covid ranged based on education – 39% of high school graduates, 55% of residents with some college experience and 75% of people with degrees.

Seventy percent of Oregonians said they thought nursing homes and other medical facilities should be allowed to require Covid vaccination among employees. The survey concluded two days before Gov. Kate Brown announced the state would require health care workers to get vaccinated and would no longer allow regular testing as an alternative. 

More than half reported they believed businesses should be allowed to mandate vaccination among employees or customers – 66% for employees and 55% for customers.

Half of Oregon residents said humans “have a good chance” of controlling the spread of communicable diseases such as Covid “or that we will certainly beat these diseases,” the news release said. Optimism was higher among seniors. Fewer than half of people under 30 said people have at least a good chance of succeeding, while two-thirds of seniors 75 and older said “we have a fighting chance.”

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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