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Survey: Minnesotans more hopeful, but report less social distancing

As the state gradually reopens during COVID-19, a new survey finds Minnesotans feeling more optimistic about the future – but practicing less social distancing.

Fewer Minnesotans say they are severely depressed – and more expect to be working again – according to the latest results of an ongoing survey tracking public attitudes during the COVID-19 crisis.

The survey also found that people are relaxing their own social distancing precautions as state officials gradually ease "Stay at Home" restrictions.

Although roughly the same number of people report they’ve worn a mask, there was a significant decline in those who said they were avoiding public places and keeping a 6-foot distance from others.

A month ago, 88% of respondents said they avoided public and crowded places. That figure dropped nearly 20 points this month to 69%, according to the COVID Impact Survey, conducted between May 30 and June 8 by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation.

In the new survey, 79% say they’ve kept a 6-foot distance from people outside their household, down from 88% one month ago.

Both changes were more than the survey’s estimated 7.5% margin of error.

The survey also found that fewer Minnesotans felt deeply depressed than a month ago. In the latest results, 11% said they felt hopeless about the future – down from 16% a month ago when the lockdown was at its peak.

And, despite record unemployment, there was an uptick in optimism.

In the latest survey, 60% thought they were “very likely” or “extremely likely” to be working within the next 30 days, up from 54% a month ago.

The COVID Impact Survey provides estimates for the United States as a whole, as well as in 10 states including Minnesota.

Nationally, the percent of people who reported avoiding contact with crowded or public places and social distancing stayed about the same, at 75% and 83% respectively. About the same number – 16 percent – reported being depressed for both surveys.

The number of people who reported being extremely or very likely to be working again in 30 days grew from 47% last month to 51% in the latest national survey.

The national survey carries a 3% margin of error.

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