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Poll finds New Yorkers OK with phased reopening  

May 27, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a coronavirus briefing in March. The Siena poll gives the governor high marks for his handling of the pandemic.
Credit Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

A new poll finds most New Yorkers are comfortable with the pace of the reopening of the economy, even though many are taking a financial hit due to the shutdown. 

The Siena College poll finds that nearly two-thirds of voters (65%-32%) say they're OK with the phased-in reopening of the state. They believe that it saves lives that would otherwise be lost to COVID-19, and that a quicker reopening could further harm the economy.

Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg said the shutdown has come with a high cost, though, to individual New Yorkers. 

“A third of voters in this state, either themselves or someone in their household, has been laid off,” Greenberg said. “That’s a big number.” 

And New Yorkers are bracing for more -- three-quarters believe there will be a second wave of a COVID-19 outbreak later this year. But two-thirds are hopeful that schools will reopen in the fall. 

The poll finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s popularity has slipped a bit since an all-time high last month. But his 66% approval rating is still among the highest during his nine years in office. 

“Overall, the voters are still very happy with Andrew Cuomo,” Greenberg said, though he added the governor is down from the “stratospheric” ratings of last month, when he was at 77%-21%. 

Greenberg says 81% of New Yorkers believe the governor has done a good job communicating the scope of the pandemic and implementing the right plans. The governor even is viewed favorably in his handling of distributing unemployment insurance benefits, despite some glitches with the overwhelmed state system.

But Cuomo is viewed more unfavorably in his handling of nursing homes during the outbreak, where many residents died from COVID-19. 

The poll also found that the public is not concerned over the state Legislature’s nearly two-month absence during the height of the outbreak. Lawmakers are back this week passing COVID-19-related bills. They say it’s all right for the governor to make the major decisions for now and there will be time for the Legislature to weigh in later.