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WEST LONG BRANCH — Even with evidence the curve of COVID-19 infection is starting to flatten in New Jersey, worries about how the coronavirus is affecting daily life continue to intensify in the Garden State and across the rest of the country, according to a new, national Monmouth University poll out this week.

Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said half of the poll's respondents, an even 50%, consider themselves "very concerned" that someone in their family may end up seriously ill in this outbreak. However, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) say they remain "very hopeful" that they will be able to return to normal life once the outbreak is over.

"They're feeling sick, but hopeful, I think is the bottom line here," Murray said. "The worries are how quickly this is spreading."

Spreading just as quickly is that elevated level of concern, which Murray said registered at only 38% in a previous poll three weeks ago. About a quarter of respondents now say they know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and 6 in 10 say the pandemic has had a major impact on their lives, with nearly everyone admitting some impact.

"New Jersey may be at the epicenter of this, (but) we see evidence that this has spread nationwide though, as most of the nation is going into lockdown," Murray said.

Race and ethnicity trends in cases reported by both New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were reflected in Monmouth's findings, as well. Going back to the question of who was "very concerned" about the virus, only 42% of respondents who identified as white said they were, while about 60% of those who identified as other races said the same.

"Even if we just go to the point of, do you have a family member who has gotten it, someone in your family, there's a difference between whites and those who are of different races," Murray said. And the numbers bear that out: 5% of whites said they or someone in their family had contracted COVID-19, compared with 12% of Latino or other origin.

Murray said 41% of people surveyed said they had lost some income due to a decrease in work, but 62% — meaning at least some overlap of those whose incomes decreased — described their finances as "stable."

But Murray cautioned that the lost income numbers shifted upward from the last Monmouth poll, and the next poll is likely to see another bump, plus a possible decrease in the percentage who believe they'll be able to get back to normal, if nothing changes on the economic front between now and then.

"I'm wondering if it doesn't pass as quickly as they want it and they don't get those jobs back right away once the outbreak's passed, whether we see the overall financial stability numbers start to tumble," he said.

The poll questioned 857 adults by phone from April 3 through 7, and results had a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.

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