SALEM, Ore. – Two new statewide surveys of Oregonians find that a large majority of state residents are taking steps to limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

In a survey of 1,000 Oregonians conducted by DHM Research, more than eight in 10 report wearing masks nearly all of the time while in public indoor spaces; more than two in three avoid crowded places; and more than six in 10 are staying 6 feet apart when in public.

However, roughly half of Oregonians report attending about four or more social gatherings in the previous two weeks, and one in five Oregonians say they have attended at least one social gathering of more than 10 people in the past two weeks.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they participated in 11 or more social gatherings in the previous two weeks. This level of social activity was most common outside of the tri-county area and the Willamette Valley, and among respondents under age 50. Oregonians who gather in larger groups also reported taking fewer protective measures. State public health epidemiologists have pointed to social gatherings has a primary route of transmission for COVID-19 in Oregon.

Just over four in 10 Oregonians are “very worried” about the COVID-19 situation in Oregon and fewer than one-quarter are “very worried” about getting sick with COVID-19.

The survey found different levels of concern about COVID-19 among respondents based on age, geography, political views and race/ethnicity. Latinos expressed higher levels of concern than whites and reported wearing masks more frequently. Members of the Latinx community have accounted for nearly 40 percent of Oregon’s COVID-19 cases.

Approximately four in 10 (39%) of Oregonians say the will “definitely” get a COVID-19 vaccine, if and when a vaccine becomes available.

In a separate survey of Latinx Oregonians conducted in Spanish by Lara Media, 87% of respondents report wearing a face mask nearly all of the time while in public indoor spaces; more than half avoid crowded places; and more than six in 10 are staying 6 feet apart when in public.

Respondents to the Lara Media survey were more worried about friends and family getting infected with COVID-19 than about themselves. And close to 50% report recently traveling more than an hour away.

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said, “These results show that nearly all Oregonians understand it’s important to wear a mask. But fewer Oregonians believe they’re at risk of getting sick and too many people are socializing indoors in bigger groups. It’s hard to sustain the changes we’ve all had to make in our lives to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19. But we won’t be able to prevent more infections, and get more schools and businesses open in Oregon, until more people act with urgency and avoid the social super-spreader gatherings that have driven COVID-19 transmission and disease in Oregon.”

Key findings of the DHM statewide poll include:

COVID-19 precautions: On average, Oregonians take personal protective measures most of the time.

  • 84% wear a face mask indoors in public nearly all the time.
  • 75% frequently wash hands nearly all the time.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) Oregonians are “very willing” to quarantine if they were infected with COVID-19, but just over six in 10 (65%) would be “very willing” to share information with a contact tracer.

Concern: About four in 10 Oregonians (42%) are very worried about the COVID-19 situation in Oregon.

  • Half as many (22%) are very worried about getting sick with COVID-19.
  • More people in the Latinx community are very worried about COVID-19 (70%) and very concerned about getting sick (72%). This was especially prominent among young Latinos ages 18–24, of whom seven in 10 said they were very worried.
  • Conservatives (32%) were approximately half as likely to express concern about getting sick as liberals (78%).

Gatherings: Oregonians are most likely to gather with family or a few friends, but two in 10 report gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

  • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) report gathering together outside in a backyard, on a porch or in a park.
  • More than half (52%) report getting together with friends inside a house.
  • More than half (52%) report traveling more than an hour away.
  • More than four in 10 Oregonians (42%) have eaten in a restaurant. Fewer than one in 10 Oregonians have attended a religious service (9%), patronized a bar or club (7%) or participated in a protest (2%).
  • While the average Oregonian has gathered with others in a social setting five times over a two-week period, conservatives (7.2) and people living outside the tri-county area (7.2) reported attending more get-togethers, while liberals (4.1) and people living in the Portland metro area reported getting together fewer times (4.6) over two weeks.

Testing: About seven in 10 Oregonians are confident they could get tested for COVID-19 if they wanted to get a test. About one in 10 are not sure.

Key findings of the Lara Media survey include:

  • Spanish speakers expressed high levels of concern about COVID-19 in Oregon: 72% of surveyed Spanish speakers said they were “very worried” someone they lived with would get sick with COVID-19.
  • Spanish speakers were more reluctant to talk to a contact tracer: 47% said they’d be “very willing” to talk to a contact tracer.
  • Spanish speakers expressed hesitancy to get vaccinated: 31% said they’d “definitely” get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The DHM poll included an oversample of 400 people who identified as people of color to ensure the data accurately reflects the views of communities that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The poll was conducted between August 27, and September 11, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

The Lara Media survey completed 468 interviews with Latinx people across Oregon. Interviews were conducted via phone and in person.

Full reports of the DHM and Lara Media surveys can be found at the OHA website.