Should the New Jersey restart and reopening be accelerated or remain on hold?

Even with COVID-19 spikes taking place in other states, some New Jerseyans are in favor of opening everything up right now — but a new survey finds a majority of Garden State residents want restrictions to remain in place until there’s a vaccine or effective medication developed to treat the virus.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found two thirds want restrictions to stay in place. Just 29% would prefer to return to normal, it said.

Poll director Krista Jenkins noted there is a partisan difference — 84% of Democrats were in favor of keeping current restrictions, but only 43% of Republicans support the restrictions. The poll found 53% of Republicans like the idea of opening everything up and returning to normal right now.

The survey also finds 77% of Garden State residents are in favor of making mask wearing mandatory in public places, while 20% think masking up should be optional, and see it as a reflection of one’s personal freedom.

While Democrats overwhelming support masking up, it still has strong support among Republicans — at 60%. Just 37% believe it should be optional.

On the question of a vaccine for COVID-19, the poll finds 66% of respondents are confidant a vaccine will be safe and effective, while 28% said they were not confidant at all.

Jenkins said as to whether people would agree to take the vaccine once it is available, “the majority of New Jerseyans say they would definitely or probably would, with 63% who say they are likely to take the vaccine. 30% say they would probably not or definitely would not when and if it becomes available.”

Jenkins pointed out “there’s definitely some people out there who are concerned about the effectiveness and the safety and are therefore not likely to take the vaccine.”

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Elif Ozdener-Poyraz, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at FDU’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, said some people feel nervous about a possible COVID-19 vaccine because “normally vaccine development takes a much longer period of time, but right now things are expedited due to the emergency.”

She said vaccine research is being done at a much faster rate than normal “so there are probably concerns about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine if it gets approved.”

The poll also found two-thirds of New Jerseyans are very or somewhat concerned that their own health or the health of someone they love will suffer because of not getting or delaying medical treatment for non-COVID-19 related health conditions, out of fear of contracting the disease.

The poll also found 61% of New Jerseyans said because of the coronavirus pandemic they would be even more likely than usual to get a flu vaccine this year.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.