A new poll out of U.C. Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI) found that anti-mask protestors in the Inland Empire do not represent the majority. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports that instead, greater than 4 in 5 voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties support a public mask mandate. This comes as U.S. health officials say mask wearing may be needed into 2022.
Big picture, this tells us that across the Inland Empire people are interested in solutions that work, said Joshua Clark, of the OBI and one of the poll’s researchers.
“This is in contrast to some of the efforts that we’ve seen in the region to turn these COVID-19 mitigation restrictions into culture war issues," said Clark. "And what I think most voters are saying through this data is, enough is enough. We want to beat this thing, [and] there’s plenty of knowledge about how to do that and let’s put some muscle behind that knowledge.”
This thinking is despite a year of contention over measures to slow the spread of the virus. In Riverside County, officials have said they will not enforce mask wearing in public or fine businesses that fail to follow COVID-19 related orders. In San Bernardino County, the Board of Supervisors moved to sue Governor Newsome in November over the state’s re-opening plans.
While 82 percent show support for a mask mandate, an even greater share, 86 percent, say public officials should set an example by wearing masks in public themselves.
“And to be clear, that’s not just saying I’m going to be wearing a mask, it’s, I want to know my neighbors are going to be taking this step, and my public officials are setting a good example by doing it themselves, and that my public officials are enforcing these restrictions,” said Clark.
This majority support is also represented across the lines of race, ethnicity, income and whether or not people went to college. Categories which are often linked to people’s political choices and therefore their policy preferences.
Michael Gomez Daly, Director of the Ontario based civic organization IE United that partnered with OBI on the poll, said this affirms what they had been seeing in the community, that only a loud minority of people are against public health guidelines.
“The poll should give local elected officials the where-with-all just to be able to be confident that they should be approaching this in a responsible way, both for re-opening recovery, [and] setting good examples by wearing masks on the dais,” said Daly.
He said his organization will actively be sharing the poll results so that local elected officials know where the community they represent stands.