UT Tyler releases results from COVID-19 mental health study

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The University of Texas at Tyler announced that a recent study of mental health during the coronavirus pandemic indicated individuals believe that “We’re in this together” to prevent it from spreading further.

The survey was conducted between April 5 and April 12 and collected from 1,197 random adults as a collaborative study between Dr. Mark Owens and Dr. Renee M Johnson, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Results showed that the majority of Texans know that the coronavirus can be transmitted through asymptomatic people and believe it’s important to make behavioral changes to prevent the spread from continuing.

“One reason Texans have been receptive to public health recommendations for preventing
the spread of COVID-19 is their belief that it poses a real threat to society,” said Dr. Mark
Owens, an assistant professor of political science at UT Tyler, who conducted the poll. “Almost all
of the respondents agreed that COVID-19 is a threat to the national economy and to their
own finances, as well as to the health of the American public, their communities and
themselves personally.”

The survey also indicated the public recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic is different from other emergencies because of the uncertainty of when things will get back to normal. When asked, 43% agreed that the pandemic would lead to civil unrest and lawlessness.

“Movies and other sensational media may have given us the impression that this is the point when we all turn on one another,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, a researcher at the UT Medical Branch. “People are actually more likely to come together in times of crisis. This is true of everyone but seems especially true of us Texans.”

While Gov. Abbott recently introduced a phased opening of the Texas economy, when the survey was conducted, it considered Texans’ perceptions about when the threat of the coronavirus would end.

“Currently, Texans still remain cautious,” Owens said. “A majority of Texans, 51%
expect the coronavirus to remain in our communities past June. Among those who expect the
spread of the coronavirus to end sooner, 22% believe it will happen before May and
another 27% expect the virus to stop by mid-May.”

In Texas, there are 27,054 confirmed cases with 732 fatalities, according to the Texas DSHS website. On April 27, Gov. Abbott announced he would be opening the Texas economy in phases.

Starting May 1, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are allowed to open at 25% capacity. He said if there are no flare-up of cases, the second phase could be initiated as soon as May 18. This could include other businesses and current ones at 50%.

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