DALLAS, Texas – Hispanic Texans and Anglo Texans have different views on how to handle the coronavirus crisis, an opinion poll shows.

Asked whether Texas relaxed restrictions on business openings and social distancing requirements too quickly, 55.5 percent of Hispanics said “yes.”

Only 34.5% of Anglos believe the restrictions were relaxed too quickly. Among African Americans in Texas, the percentage was 61 percent.

Thus, the views of Hispanic Texans and African American Texans were more in common than Hispanic Texans and Anglo Texans.

The poll found 44 percent of registered voters believe Texas has relaxed restrictions on business openings and social distancing requirements too quickly.

The new polling was conducted by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation (THPF) and Rice University’s Baker Institute. THPF is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that analyzes opinions and behaviors among Hispanic Texans. The Dallas Morning News co-sponsored the poll. 

“Texans are deeply divided along racial lines over whether the state has relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions too quickly and whether getting the economy going or slowing the spread of the virus should be a higher priority,” a news release from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation stated.

The poll found Texans are almost evenly split between those who believe the country’s top priority should be to get the economy going by sending people back to work and those who believe the top priority should be slowing the spread of the virus. However, there is a big divide along racial lines.

While 77.7 percent of African Americans and 66.1 percent of Hispanics believe slowing the spread of the virus should be the top priority, only 40.2 percent of Anglos share that opinion.

The poll conducted between August 4 and August 13 among a representative sample of 846 Texas registered voters with a Hispanic oversample.

“People of color express much more concern about the speed with which Texas has lifted restrictions,” said Jason Villalba, president of THPF.

“Texans are deeply split in our evaluation of how the state has responded to the pandemic and what the priority should be going forward. These divides highlight the difficulty of building consensus around the state’s response.”

Villalba noted that Hispanic (29.4 percent) and African American (23.7 percent ) poll respondents were significantly more likely than Anglos (12.3 percent) to say they or an immediate family member has tested positive for COVID-19. 

He said these findings track with state and national public health data showing that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the disease.

“The coronavirus has taken a severe toll on minority communities and exacerbated inequities in health care,” said THPF Board Member and former Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. “This virus has been especially devastating for Hispanics and other people of color.”

Dr. Mark P. Jones is  THPF’s director of research and analytics. He said that while nine out of ten registered voters in Texas say they are likely or extremely likely to wear a mask when entering a grocery store or other retail space, “a majority of Texans report they are unlikely to wear a mask when entering the home of a friend or relative, with this behavior significantly more common among Anglos than among either Hispanics or African Americans.”

Villalba is a former Republican state representative from Dallas. He said the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation operates as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, that is “dedicated and committed to analyzing and exploring the political, economic, social, demographic, and familial attitudes and behaviors of Texas Hispanics.”

In collaboration with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, the Foundation conducts surveys, polls, research, data collection and analysis concerning the Hispanic population in Texas. For more information go to www.TxHPF.org.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Jason Villalba, president of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation.

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