Isolating. Frustrating. Disrupting.
These are some of the common words local readers used to describe their COVID-19 pandemic experience, according to an informal, nine-question survey that this news organization conducted earlier this month. To examine how the highly contagious disease upended our everyday routines, the survey asked people about their outlook on their lives, attitudes on how the health crisis has been handled and opinions on what the future holds.
Over the course of nine days, 352 people from the Peninsula and east bay responded. The poll results indicated that many people expect to continue taking precautions against COVID-19 and have faced numerous obstacles since March 2020.
When asked to capture their pandemic experience in three words, some people went with phrases, such as "Life's empty space," "real-life movie" and "Groundhog Day." While most answers touched on challenges, others shared an optimistic view through answers like "transformative," "eye-opening" and "gratitude-inducing."
Physical activity proved to be a main outlet from the stresses of the pandemic. Many found a release through running, hiking and exercise, among other means of movement. Respondents also found enrichment through watching television, reading, cooking, puzzles and friends.
In recent weeks, the region has seen indoor mask mandates end in most public places. Despite the lifted restriction, more than 3 out of 5 respondents said they would either likely or very likely continue to wear a face covering.
About the same percent ranked their personal risk of contracting COVID-19 to be very low at this point in the pandemic, which could be attributed to various factors, such as protection through vaccines and boosters.
When it came to how well public health leaders handled the crisis, slightly more than 3 out of 5 respondents said that they were in full or nearly full agreement with health orders. But almost 1 in 5 said they were in full or nearly full disagreement during the pandemic.
The top three answers to the question "Which of the following has been the most difficult to navigate during the pandemic?" were "Judging whether it's safe to see relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. in person," (33.5%) followed by "The overall mental toll" (26.4%) and "Constantly shifting public health mandates" (21%).
Despite the health threat and risks of travel, survey takers showed a willingness to travel far from home in the past two years: 13.9% went outside of the country, while 47.4% went to other parts of the state. Just 5.6% stayed completely within their county's limits.
As we come out of the pandemic, surveyed readers also showed cautious confidence that we'll mostly return to normalcy a year from now. On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being a full return to normalcy, about 42% of respondents selected 8 or higher.
The survey was conducted online from March 4 to 13. It was open to readers of The Almanac, DanvilleSanRamon.com, Mountain View Voice, Livermore Vine, Palo Alto Weekly, Pleasanton Weekly and Redwood City Pulse.
The poll did not use random sampling. Answers were provided anonymously. No demographic data was collected.
Palo Alto Online is marking two years of the COVID-19 pandemic this week. If you missed any parts of our series, view the links below.
Silicon Valley is still experiencing shorter drive times, but how long will it last?
Palo Alto Unified leaders are working to aid struggling students while also looking to a more hopeful future.
Some business owners saw their best year yet as consumers shifted their priorities.
As talent moves outside of the daily commute radius, will companies follow in a post-pandemic era?
A Stanford epidemiologist says that COVID-19, in some form, is likely to persist.
As the "hybrid" model takes over tech, essential workers cope with pandemic adjustments.
COVID-19 brought long hours, "ever-changing rules" and a new appreciation for the work that nurses do.