Editorial – Violence worries Virginians

Published 6:58 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Suffolk isn’t the only place in Virginia where crime is top of mind of citizens.

A poll commissioned by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcar Association shows that community violence and crime is the public health issue that most concerns a majority of Virginians when it comes to personal safety and well-being.

In the public opinion survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, 51% of respondents cited community violence and crime as the top public health concern for their families. Health care workforce shortages, which have been intensified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the second most commonly cited public health concern, with 25% of those polled listing it as their primary concern.

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The poll of 800 registered Virginia voters included a range of questions related to satisfaction with hospitals and health insurance companies, COVID-19 vaccines and safety precautions, behavioral health issues and public health considerations.

Other interesting findings:

  • Three-fourths of Virginians (75%) view Virginia hospitals favorably, and more than four in five people (83%) who have had a personal or family encounter with hospital care in the past year said their experience was positive.
  • More than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which some people delayed necessary medical care, the vast majority of Virginians (93%) say they now feel safe going to a doctor’s office or hospital for health care services.
  • Virginians are generally split in their view of health insurance companies, with 48% expressing a negative view of health insurance companies compared to 44% who view them favorably.
  • Asked for their views on what’s driving health care costs, Virginians cited health insurance costs (29%), pharmaceutical companies (26%) and general inflation (15 %) as the most significant factors.
  • On the subject of COVID-19 vaccination, 90% of poll respondents said they have been vaccinated, with 80% indicating they have received at least one booster dose. Those findings are in line with Virginia Department of Health data that shows 92.6% of the 18-and-older population has received at least one vaccine dose, with 81% of adults fully vaccinated.
  • Attitudes on continuing to take COVID-19 safety precautions are split with 39% saying they still wear masks in crowded indoor spaces, compared to 38% who said they don’t take any precautions. Another 15% said they still avoid large crowds and gatherings, and 8% said they still wear a mask on airplanes.
  • Federal regulations require health care providers such as hospitals to continue to enforce indoor mask rules in those facilities. When asked about this, more than two-thirds of respondents (69%) said they understand why masks are still required under the circumstances and are accepting of that.