Checking In: Covid-19 Impact on Hospitals & Schools

Checking in with Oregonians on their feelings about COVID impacts on hospitals and schools, just before mask mandates expire.

From February 1-7, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including their beliefs and attitudes about the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and schools. Many of these questions are benchmarked with past data, meaning we’ve asked them before and are comparing Oregonians’ current attitudes and opinions to their opinions in the past. The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q1-5).

Greatest Concern: Adequate Hospital Staffing

When it comes to questions about the health care system and hospitals in particular, Oregonians are the most concerned about hospitals not having enough staff to treat and oversee patients, with 81% of Oregonians either very (50%) or somewhat (31%) concerned (Q4).

  • Oregonians’ worries are down slightly from October 2021[1], when 86% of Oregonians were concerned about this potential problem.
  • Oregonians living in the Tri-county area are more concerned about hospitals not having enough staff, as 86% of these residents are either very (65%) or somewhat (29%) concerned, compared to 78% of the Willamette Valley and 76% of the rest of the state.
  • Oregonians with a college education or above are more likely to be either somewhat (26%) or very (60%) concerned about this potential problem than Oregonians with a high school education or less (somewhat concerned: 34%; very concerned: 41%).
  • 86% of Oregonians who make $100,000 or more per year are somewhat (33%) or very (53%) concerned about this potential problem, compared to 78% of Oregonians who make less than $50,000 per year.

Concerns About Enough Patient Beds

Oregonians are also concerned about hospitals not having enough beds for all patients requiring hospital care, with 71% of Oregonians either somewhat (35%) or very (36%) concerned (Q3).

  • Oregonians’ worries are slightly down from October 2021, when 78% of Oregonians were either somewhat (30%) or very (48%) concerned about this potential problem.
  • In regard to area, Oregonians living in Tri-county are most concerned about this potential problem, with 78% stating they are either somewhat (36%) or very (41%) concerned, compared to 66% of the Willamette Valley and 66% of the rest of the state.
  • 78% of Oregonians who are college graduates or above are either somewhat (33%) or very (44%) concerned about this potential problem, compared to 70% of Oregonians with some college and 66% of Oregonians with a high school education or below.

And What About Medical Supplies?

Additionally, many Oregonians are concerned about hospitals not having enough specific medical supplies, with 66% of Oregonians either being somewhat (36%) or very (31%) concerned (Q5).

  • Oregonians’ concerns are slightly down from October 2021, when 75% of Oregonians were either somewhat (29%) or very (46%) concerned about this potential problem.

Switching Gears: COVID and Schools

48% of Oregonians feel K-12 schools are doing a good job keeping students safe and minimizing the spread of Covid-19, 21% think they were not doing a good job, and 30% did not know (Q1).

  • Oregonians feel largely the same in February of 2022 as they did in October 2021, when 47% of Oregonians thought they were doing a good job, 19% thought they were not doing a good job, and 34% did not know.

Where Opinions Have Changed: Problematic Outbreaks

About a third of Oregonians (32%) say COVID outbreaks in the schools in their area have been a problem in the last month, 34% say they have not been a problem, and 34% did not know (Q2).

  • These percentages are slightly elevated from October 2021, when 23% of Oregonians said outbreaks in their local schools had been a problem recently, compared to 44% of Oregonians who said outbreaks had not posed a problem recently.

About a third of Oregonians (32%) say COVID outbreaks in the schools in their area have been a problem in the last month, 34% say they have not been a problem, and 34% did not know (Q2). These percentages are slightly elevated from October 2021, when 23% of Oregonians said outbreaks in their local schools had been a problem recently, compared to 44% of Oregonians who said outbreaks had not posed a problem recently.

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us, Understanding What Divides Us

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives. 

  • Strong majorities of both BIPOC and white Oregonians are concerned about their local hospitals not having enough beds, staff, and specific medical supplies.  (Q3-Q5)   
  • Oregonians living in rural areas are more likely than Oregonians living in urban areas to indicate they are not at all or not very concerned about hospital bed shortages (31% compared to 18%) (Q3).
  • Oregonians living in urban areas are more likely to be either somewhat or very worried about hospitals running out of supplies than rural areas (72% compared to 63%) (Q5).
  • Urban residents are more likely to report having trouble with outbreaks in their local schools compared to 27% of rural (Q2).
  • Oregonians ages 18-29 and 30-44 are more likely than Oregonians ages 65-74 and 75+ to be either somewhat or very worried about their hospitals not having enough medical supplies (72% and 70% compared to 61% and 49%) (Q5).
  • Oregonians ages 30-44 are the most likely, compared to all other age groups, to think that their local K-12 schools are doing a good job keeping their students safe and minimizing the spread of Covid-19 (56%) (Q1).
  • However, Oregonians ages 30-44 are more likely to indicate that outbreaks in their local schools have been a problem in the last month compared to other age groups
    • It is worth noting that among Oregonians in the age groups spanning from 45-75+, 34-49% indicate they do not know if outbreaks in schools have been a problem in the last month (Q2).

Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,584 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.5% to ±2.5%. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (https://oregonvbc.org).

[1] Survey conducted October 8-18, 2021; OVBC; N=1403

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