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Michigan increasingly accepting of COVID-19 vaccine and hybrid work, new survey shows

6/8/21

FOX 2 Detroit

By Jack Nissen

More Michigan citizens are open to getting the COVID-19 vaccine while workers are increasingly interested in working from home.

About 77% of voters in the state plan to get the shot or already have, while more than half would prefer a hybridized work schedule that includes both remote and office work.

Those are the results of a Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce survey that found notably ways the pandemic has shifted attitudes about work, vaccines, and the direction of the state.

“Fifteen months into the pandemic, voters are seeing clear progress in controlling COVID-19 and are broadly receptive to vaccinations but are still reserving judgment about the speed with which they want to return to ‘normal’,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president of the chamber.

The survey was conducted from May 22 – 26 that included 600 registered voters.

Also tallied support for a recent package of voting legislation that has galvanized criticisms that it would make it harder to vote in Michigan. Here’s what else it found.

Changing vaccine perceptions

The number of Michigan voters interested in getting vaccinated rose by almost 25% in May, compared to the chamber’s previous survey. But there is still a significant number of voters that don’t plan on getting the shot.

However, a minority of those surveyed did offer reasons why they would get the vaccine. They included if businesses or schools required it and if their friends or family told them needed to get one.

Currently, about 59% of the state has gotten at least one shot.

But the rate of new vaccinations has declined in recent weeks, making the state’s goal of 70% vaccine coverage still a lofty one.

The survey found that incentives like lotteries offered in Ohio and New Mexico would do little to convince citizens not already vaccinated to get the shot.

So far, 47.5% of those who were included in the poll said there was no reason that would convince them to get the vaccine.

Hybrid work schedules becoming more popular

What may become one of the biggest imprints left by the pandemic is the desire for a different work routine. A little more than half – 50.4% – said they would prefer a combination of working from home and in the office.

Some companies like Ford have already leaned into this new approach to business, which would feature a staggered schedule for most office-based employees.

Broader evidence about the post-pandemic workplace suggests that what was long called tele-commuting will remain far more common than it was a year ago.

Another 27% say they would prefer working from home and 22% said they would prefer working at their job site.

A changing labor group

Another impact of the pandemic far from being fully felt is the shifting labor patterns in Michigan businesses.

Companies are still facing significant staffing issues, even as the economy continues to rebound from a brutal 2020 forecast. Of those that have not returned to their original job or found a new one, the biggest barrier continued to be not feeling safe due to the pandemic.

The second reason was a lack of good pay or benefits. Others included age and health as well as a need for child care.

Further investigation into these results was fleshed out in a focus group of 15 respondents, which found one participant cited generous unemployment benefits as a reason for not returning to work.

The largest group no longer working that were before the pandemic were older people.

Support and opposition for new voter legislation

Opinions on a new package of voter and election reforms introduced by state Republicans were also polled, which found strong support and opposition for many of the measures.

Bills requiring voters to show a government-issued ID when they vote, registering young adults who are getting their driver’s license, and allowing clerks to process absentee ballots ahead of time all received more than 70% support.

But bills limiting dropbox access, prohibiting the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications, and requiring all counting of ballots be done by noon the day after the election regardless of whether they’ve been fully completed were opposed.

More motivation to vote

The survey also identified a growing interest in participating in elections. Both Democrats and Republicans of all ages reported a strong motivation for casting a ballot in the next state election.

“Eight months after the Presidential race, it is clear voters have not moved on. The same dynamics we saw in 2018 and 2020 continue to hold in mid-2021,” said Richard Czuba, president of Glengariff Group Inc. which conducted the survey. “And perhaps most telling, motivation to vote in the 2022 election already comes in at a strong 9.2 indicating that the 2022 election is likely to continue to see the high levels of turnout we saw in 2018 and 2020.”

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