As California sees a new surge in coronavirus cases, an exclusive new Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll found that nearly half of Californians now support a statewide indoor mask mandate.
Gov. Gavin Newsom ended the statewide mask mandate on June 15, the day the state shed most coronavirus restrictions. Now, more than a month later, the delta variant is spreading and California is seeing a spike in infections that is pushing COVID-19 hospitalizations to levels not seen since early spring.
On July 17, Los Angeles County mandated masks indoors again — regardless of vaccination status. The state has not indicated whether it will follow suit.
The new statewide poll of more than 1,000 registered voters, which has a margin of error of +/-2.9%, also showed that residents are split on venues requiring proof of vaccination — but it depends on the venue.
While 39% oppose having a statewide indoor mask mandate, a larger percentage, 49%, support it, according to the poll.
Would you support or oppose a statewide indoor mask mandate?
Unsure or no opinion: 13%
When it comes to requiring Californians to show proof of vaccination at shops, restaurants and offices, the majority of respondents disagreed, according to the poll.
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Shops, restaurants, and offices should require proof of vaccination.
Unsure or no opinion: 14%
But when asked if large public venues such as concert halls and stadiums should require proof of vaccination, Californians were split, with 49% agreeing and 40% disagreeing.
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: All large public venues such as concert halls and stadiums should require proof of vaccination.
Unsure or no opinion: 11%
Currently, the state is requiring masks in schools, but will ultimately leave decisions on how to handle enforcement up to the local school districts.
According to the poll, 45% of respondents said vaccinated students and teachers should be required to wear masks in the classroom, while 40% said they shouldn’t be. Another 15% of respondents were unsure or had no opinion.
Should vaccinated students and teachers be required to wear masks?
Unsure or no opinion: 15%
Californians were also split when asked if the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for middle school and high school students ages 12 and older at public schools. A total 52% said it should be mandatory, while 49% said it should be a personal choice.
In your opinion, should the vaccine for COVID-19 be mandatory for middle school and high school students ages 12 and older to go to public school, or should that be a personal choice?
It should be mandatory for all students: 52%
It should not be mandatory for all students: 49%
The delta coronavirus variant now accounts for an estimated 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Respondents had mixed reactions about the variant, with 31% saying they were very concerned about it, 30% saying they were somewhat concerned and 19% saying they were not too concerned. Another 21% of respondents said they were not at all concerned, according to the poll.
How concerned are you about the Delta variant of COVID-19?
Very concerned: 31%
Somewhat concerned: 30%
Not too concerned: 19%
Not at all concerned: 21%
The highly transmissible delta variant has proliferated statewide since California fully reopened its economy last month, and more California counties have been recommending that residents mask up indoors.
According to the poll, 37% of respondents said they always wore masks outside their homes, while 22% of respondents said they only do it sometimes.
In the past week, how often did you wear a face covering outside your home?
When responding to the poll, more than 60% of Californians said they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That comes close to vaccination figures reported by the state.
Have you received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?
When ask about the top issue the state is facing, COVID-19 came in second at 16%. Meanwhile, Homelessness and housing costs tied at 19% as the top issues facing California today.
What is the number one issue facing California today?
Housing costs: 19%
Something else: 11%
COVID in California
California is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, with the vast majority of new cases reported among unvaccinated people.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has warned that the outbreak in the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Hospitalizations in California are at the highest level since April, but they are a far cry from the winter peak, officials said.
Roughly 56% of Californians now live in a county that either recommends or requires masks indoors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
State health officials continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated, but they would not say if statewide restrictions are coming.
“We continue as always to support the ability of local health jurisdictions to enact stricter local public health guidance that is tailored to the situation in their communities, as some counties have done,” a spokesperson said.
The Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll was conducted July 19-20, 2021. The sample consisted of California registered voters, n=1,085, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 2.9 percentage points.
Nexstar Media has stations nationwide, including KTLA. Other California stations include KRON in San Francisco, KTXL in Sacramento, KSEE/KGPE in Fresno, KGET in Bakersfield and KSWB in San Diego.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.