If you’re wondering just how polarizing the mask debate is in San Antonio, a new Google survey shows people here are nearly evenly split on the matter.
In a question that asked participants to indicate which statements they agree with, 47.5% of people indicated that everyone, even those vaccinated, should wear face masks due to the recent spike in cases. A smaller percentage — 43.6% — agreed that unvaccinated people should be required to wear masks and about 33.5% agreed that events should go back to reduced capacity. Participants were able to select more than one stance.
The Google Survey conducted in the San Antonio area polled about 500 internet users between Aug. 6 and Aug. 19 in English.
Answers were collected as Bexar County and Texas experienced heightened concerns with the back-to-school season intersecting with an infection surge.
The concerns have led to a Texas-sized debate over mask mandates with some local governments and school officials defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban in the name of protecting students.
The latest ruling from the Texas Supreme Court allows school districts to require mask mandates for now, including the directive issued by San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District which is still in effect in Bexar County.
In a separate poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about 6 in 10 Americans say students and teachers should be required to wear face masks in school.
That poll showed that 59% of Americans support vaccination requirements for teachers and 55% say the same for students eligible to be vaccinated.
2 in 3 concerned about delta variant
About 62% of San Antonians who participated in the Google survey in the San Antonio area said they are “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” about the delta variant’s effects on their family, with 9% saying they’re “not very concerned” and 12% saying they’re “not at all concerned.”
The COVID-19 risk level in San Antonio sits at “severe” and “steady,” and data shows that the seven-day average of infections decreased by 6% to 1,511. About 1,1385 people with COVID-19 are hospitalized as of Friday.
Across Texas, hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 have reached levels not seen since January, with over 13,000 people hospitalized as of Saturday.
1 in 10 participants say they don’t trust the vaccine at all
The majority of Google survey participants said they believe the vaccine helps those who are at high risk (59%), allows them to get back to normal life (57%), and protects them and their families from the virus (51%).
When asked to rank their trust of the vaccine on a 1-10 scale, nearly 27% said they “completely” trust the vaccine — a 10 of 10. On the other end, nearly 10% said they do not trust it at all — a 1 of 10.
Almost 67% of respondents gave a rating of 7-10. That number is identical to the percentage of vaccinated Bexar County residents who are eligible for the shot, according to data from Metro Health. Across the state, about 56% of Texans eligible for a shot are vaccinated.
In the survey, 46% responded that the shot should be an individual choice. About 40% said it should be mandated by schools, and 38% said it should be mandated by employers. Participants were able to select more than one answer.
According to the survey, the biggest concerns people have about the vaccine are its side effects and effectiveness. The results show that respondents also worry about too much government interference and insufficient research.
About 17% of people said they would prefer to wait for the FDA to approve a shot, but on Monday, the U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In an address later on Monday, President Joe Biden said that for those who hesitated an arm jab until it received what he dubbed the “gold standard” of FDA approval, “the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”
“Please get vaccinated today,” he said.
Pfizer said the U.S. is the first country to grant full approval of its vaccine, in a process that required a 360,000-page application and rigorous inspections. Never before has the FDA has so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety.
Moderna has also applied to the FDA for full approval of its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson, maker of the third option in the U.S., said it hopes to do so later this year.
The approval further opens the door for entities, businesses or schools to require vaccinations for students or employees.