As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in Florida and the battle between Gov. Ron DeSantis and school districts across the state intensifies over mask mandates, Quinnipiac University's latest poll finds that concerns over the virus were palpable among those surveyed and a majority believe the surge was preventable.
Quinnipiac surveyed 997 adults in Florida from August 17-21 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
The poll results, released Tuesday, show 60% of those surveyed support requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks in schools, while 36% oppose it.
DeSantis — whose executive order gives parents the power to decide whether a child wears a mask to school — has threatened to withhold the salaries of school leaders who require masks. Twenty-five percent of those polled believe this is a good idea, while 69% say it's not.
"As COVID-19 makes a frightening resurgence, it's Tallahassee vs. the teaching institutions. Thumbs down from Floridians on DeSantis' ban on mask requirements in public schools. Thumbs down on DeSantis' call to freeze pay of administrators who mandate mask wearing. And he gets scant support from fellow Republicans on penalizing the school leaders who defy him," said Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy.
The poll also shows 63% of adults believe mask-wearing is primarily about the concern of public health, while 33% believe it's an issue about personal freedom.
A majority, 68% to 29%, say they think local officials should be able to require masks in indoor public spaces if they believe it is necessary. Fifty-nine percent support requiring everyone to wear masks while in indoor public spaces, and 64% believe that masks or face coverings are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
In regards to the recent wave of COVID-19, 61% of Floridians believe the rise of coronavirus cases was preventable. Fifty-nine percent say the spread of COVID-19 in the state is out of control, while 34% say it is under control.
As far as DeSantis' efforts in slowing the spread of the virus, poll results are pretty divided. Forty-one percent believe the governor is helping slow the spread, while 46% believe he's hurting it.