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Infectious Diseases

COVID-19 Local Impact Survey Results

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In November 2020, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit partnered with the Institute for Survey Research at York University to conduct an online survey to learn about the financial, mental, physical and social impacts of the pandemic on the local population. This COVID-19 Local Impact Survey was conducted in November 2020 and again from March to mid-April 2021 to assess changes in behaviours and attitudes.

In total, over 2,350 Simcoe Muskoka residents ages 18 years of age and older responded to the survey in November 2020. Results from the second survey will be posted in the coming months.

Highlights of the results show that local residents:

  • Think the pandemic is very serious/serious (95%), with a greater proportion of seniors saying they perceive the pandemic as very serious;
  • Follow public health recommendations, especially when in public spaces compared to private gatherings, with seniors more likely to practice public health measures;
  • Are as concerned about indirect impacts of the pandemic (such as the economy, loss of social/recreational activities) as they are about direct impacts of the pandemic (becoming infected with COVID-19);
  • Who are parents are as concerned about the indirect impacts of the pandemic on their children (such as academic success, screen time, mental health) as they are about direct impacts of the pandemic;
  • Have experienced worsening mental health and physical health (like sleep, physical inactivity and substance use), and more so for younger age groups;
  • Are having more difficulty meeting their basic needs, with adults under 65 having more difficulty compared to seniors 65+;
  • Agree (over 80%) that the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is doing everything it can to protect the health of its residents;
  • Have some hesitancy with becoming immunized with 68% indicating they will probably/definitely get the vaccination.
COVID-19: Seriousness and Public Health Measures
  • Overall, 71% (95% confidence interval: 65% - 76%) of respondents said that the pandemic is ‘very serious’, with another 24% (19% - 29%) calling it ‘somewhat serious’.

 

  • Perceived seriousness of the pandemic increases with age.Some of the age-related differences in following public health measures may be attributable to the perceived seriousness of the pandemic.

 

  • Public health measures such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings/masks in indoor spaces can help stop the spread of the virus. Since July 2020, everyone entering indoor public spaces (businesses, organizations, public transit) in Simcoe Muskoka has been required to wear a face covering/mask. According to the survey, respondents were more likely to avoid indoor private gatherings (e.g. parties) (72% (66% - 78%)) than indoor public spaces (e.g. stores) (43% (38% - 49%)).

 

  • Respondents who did not avoid these places were more likely to distance at public spaces (88% (84% - 92%)) than private gatherings (64% (53% - 74%))
  • Respondents who did not avoid these places were more likely to mask at public spaces (97% (94% - 99%)) than at private gatherings (58% (47% - 68%))
  • Seniors aged 65 and older were more likely to distance (98% (92% - 99%)) and mask (100% (99% - 100%)) in public spaces compared to younger adults aged 18-34 (distance: 75% (61% - 86%) and mask: 90% (77% - 96%)).

 

Measures

Other Concerns During the Pandemic
  • The survey asked Simcoe Muskoka adults about their level of concern on a number of topics. The results show that people are as concerned about the indirect impacts of the pandemic as they are about the direct impacts. For example, 93% (95% confidence interval: 89% - 95%) of respondents were somewhat/very worried about the impact of the pandemic on the economy and 89% (84% - 92%) were somewhat/very worried about a high risk family member or friend becoming infected.

 

  • There were age and sex differences for the following topics of concern:

 

  • Burning out because there is no break from responsibilities:Females are more concerned about this than males; and young adults aged 18 to 34 are more concerned than seniors.
  • Economy:Seniors aged 65 and older are more concerned about the economy compared to the youngest age group of 18 to 34 year olds
  • Education:Adults 18 to 64 years are more concerned about their education compared to seniors.

 

  • Approximately one in three survey respondents were parents to children less than 18 years old.Parents were also asked questions about concerns regarding their child’s wellbeing.The results show parents are as concerned about indirect impacts of the pandemic on their child/children as they are about their children becoming ill.

 

  • 81% (68% - 90%) of parents were somewhat/very worried about the impact of the pandemic on the academic success of their children while 79% (66% - 87%) were somewhat/very worried that their children would become sick from COVID-19.

 

ConcernsGeneral

ConcernsChildren

Receiving Health Care and Health Impacts
  • The survey asked about experiences with needing and accessing health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.A significant proportion of respondents or their household members who required a health care service avoided getting care (47% (95% confidence interval: 41% - 55%) and/or experienced delays/cancellations (70% (64% - 75%)) receiving care.

 

  • Among those who had either avoided and/or delayed care, 12% (8% - 18%) felt that their health had become a lot worse as a result, and another 44% (37% - 51%) felt that their health had become somewhat worse.

 

HealthServices

Mental Health and Substance Use
  • It has been acknowledged the public health measures required to reduce transmission of COVID-19 can be detrimental to individual mental health and substance use behaviours. For resources on how you can find mental health supports in this challenging time, visit the health unit's website on Supports for You.

 

  • In general, mental health and wellbeing has declined during the pandemic for Simcoe Muskoka residents.For pre-pandemic data on the mental health of Simcoe Muskoka residents, please visit the HealthSTATS pages on mental health.

 

  • In November 2020, almost three in ten adult residents (28% (95% Confidence Interval: 23% - 33%) rated their mental health in the past two weeks as “Fair” or “Poor” while 37% (32% - 43%) rated their mental health as “Excellent” or “Very Good”.

 

  • Younger adults aged 18-34 years were more likely to rate their mental health as “Fair or “Poor” (41% (29% - 54%)) than seniors aged 65 and older (13% (7.7% - 21%)).
  • Females were less likely to rate their mental health as “Excellent” or “Very Good” (28% (22% - 36%)) than males (47% (39% - 55%)).

 

  • The survey also asked about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected levels of stress, anxiety, loneliness and sense of community belonging. Nearly half of respondents indicated that feelings of stress (45% (40% - 51%)) and anxiety (49% (43% – 54%)) worsened compared to prior to the pandemic.

 

  • Females were more likely to report their overall anxiety had become worse due to the pandemic (57% (49% – 65%)) compared to males (40% (32% – 48%)).

 

  • Four in ten (40% (34% - 45%) respondents indicated that feelings of loneliness had become worse due to the pandemic.

 

  • Females were more likely to report that their feelings of loneliness had become worse due to the pandemic (48% (40% – 56%)) compared to males (31% (24% – 39%)).

 

  • More than a third (36% (31% - 42%) of respondents indicated that their sense of community belonging had become worse due to the pandemic.
  • Self-reported substance use generally increased during the pandemic among those who used these substances, with cannabis use increasing the most compared to alcohol use, cigarette use, e-cigarette use and non-medical use of other drugs.For pre-pandemic data on substance use, please visit the HealthSTATS pages on tobacco, alcohol & drugs.

 

SelfRatedMH

ChangeInMH

ChangeSubUse

Impacts on Other Health-Related Behaviours
  • In addition to the threat of COVID-19 infection, the pandemic has had other impacts on physical health.The survey asked questions about sleep, exercise, eating habits and screen time.Between 5% and 20% of survey respondents made positive changes in these domains, however, for the most part, more respondents reported there was no change or negative change due to the pandemic.

 

 

ChangeInPH

Financial Impacts
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted economic security and food security for many individuals and families.

 

  • Survey results indicate approximately one in four (26% (21% - 31%)) respondents received financial assistance from some level of government since the beginning of the pandemic.Despite this, between 21% and 25% of all respondents reported that it was more difficult to pay the mortgage/rent, pay bills and/or debts, buy enough food, and buy high quality food.

 

  • Adults aged 18-34 (29% (18% - 42%)) and 35-64 (29% (23% - 37%)) were more likely to report the pandemic has made it harder to pay bills compared to seniors (11% (5.6% - 19%)).
  • Adults aged 18-34 (27% (17% - 41%)) and 35-64 (23% (17% - 30%)) were more likely to report the pandemic has made it harder to buy enough food compared to seniors (12% (6.4% - 20%)).
  • Younger adults aged 18-34 years were more likely to report the pandemic has made it harder to buy high quality food (39% (27% - 52%)) compared to seniors (19% (12% - 29%)).

 

  • At the time of the survey in November 2020, 18% (15% - 21%) of households had experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days.This includes 4.9% (3.5% - 6.7%) in marginal food insecurity, 9.0% (6.7% - 12%) in moderate food insecurity and 4.1% (3.0% - 5.7%) in severe food insecurity.

 

 

BasicNeeds

Local Public Health Response
  • The survey asked respondents about their perception of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) response to the pandemic including protecting the health of Simcoe Muskoka residents, and providing up-to-date, clear, and credible information.

 

  • Overall, between 81% and 85% of respondents somewhat/strongly agreed that SMDHU is doing everything it can to protect the health of its residents, is providing up-to-date information about COVID-19, and is providing information on how to protect residents.88% (83% - 91%) of respondents somewhat/strongly agree that SMDHU provides credible information.

 

  • Females were more likely to somewhat/strongly agree that SMDHU provides up-to-date information about COVID-19 (90% (84% - 94%)) compared to males (74% (66% - 81%).
  • Younger adults aged 18 to 34 were less likely to strongly agree with the statements about providing credible information and doing everything SMDHU can to protect health of residents than older adults, but more likely to somewhat agree.The overall level of somewhat/strongly agree is similar between age groups.

 

  • For information about SMDHU’s pandemic response and information for the public, visit the health unit’s website at www.smdhu.org and the HealthSTATS COVID-19 pages.

 

PHUresponse

Getting Vaccinated
  • Immunizing the population is the key way to end the COVID-19 pandemic.Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is working with many community partners to meet this goal.For more information on the local immunization campaign, please visit the health unit’s website on COVID Vaccines and Immunization or the COVID Immunization HealthSTATS page. For data on routine (non-COVID-19) vaccines, please visit the (non-COVID) Immunization HealthSTATS page.

 

  • Just over two in three (68%, 95% Confidence Interval 63% - 73%) adult residents said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine when it became available (at the time of the survey vaccines were not yet available).

 

  • Nearly one-in-three adults said they would probably not get the vaccine, or were unsure whether they would get the vaccine (28% (23% - 33%)).

  • The likelihood of probably/definitely getting the vaccine increased with age starting at 58% (44% - 70%) for 18-34 year olds and increasing to 78% (68% - 86%) for seniors.
  • Females were less likely to state they will probably/definitely get the vaccine at 63% (55% - 70%) compared to males at 74% (66% - 81%).

 

VaccineReady

 

VaccineReadyAgeSex

Technical Notes and Definitions

Please see Technical Notes and Definitions here.

Page Last Modified: April 27, 2021