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Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: 80 Percent of Metro Area Residents Say Government Is Failing in COVID-19 Testing, Needs to Do More

More than 60 percent fear pandemic will last another year

Posted: Jan. 20, 2022
Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: 80 Percent of Metro Area Residents Say Government Is Failing in COVID-19 Testing, Needs to Do More

More than 80 percent of metro area residents say the government should be doing more to make COVID-19 testing more readily available to the public, according to the latest Mount Sinai South Nassau “Truth in Medicine Poll,” sponsored by Bethpage Credit Union.
A clear majority—57 percent—hold the federal government most accountable for lack of available testing, the poll showed, while 15 percent said the state government is to blame.

The poll was conducted before the federal government began an effort to make free test kits available for every household in the United States, including distributing them via the Postal Service and requiring insurers to cover them at no charge.

“The lack of available testing has been an Achilles’ heel of the COVID-19 response since Day One of the pandemic,” said Adhi Sharma, MD, President of Mount Sinai South Nassau, who recalled the initial days of the pandemic when tests were tightly controlled and results would take up to two weeks. “More testing enables those who suspect they may have been exposed to get information, stay home if they have a positive result, and help stop the spread to others.”

Other key findings of the poll include:

  • Most residents are not optimistic that the virus has run its course. Some 63 percent of respondents to the poll—conducted during the first week of January—believe the pandemic will last at least another year.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents support mandatory mask-wearing in private businesses, theaters, schools, courthouses, and places of worship
  • A vast majority of the poll respondents—80 percent—strongly support offering newly emerging antiviral pills and medicines to all patients with COVID-19 and not prioritizing them for the unvaccinated, as some health officials have urged. This sentiment holds true even among unvaccinated respondents, with 80 percent believing antibody treatments and antiviral medicines should be available to all people.
  • A significant number of residents—43 percent—continue to put off routine well visits, such as an annual physical, dental or eye exams, mammograms or blood pressure screenings, the poll found.

“During the past two years we repeatedly have seen patients come to the hospital with more advanced disease that might have been prevented had it been caught and treated earlier,” said Dr. Sharma. “Putting off well visits is not a wise choice and could lead to serious consequences for you and your loved ones. I strongly advise that you should not hesitate to seek care out of fear of COVID-19. You may be putting yourself at greater risk by staying home and delaying needed treatment.”

Overall, 79 percent of adult respondents say they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About one-half of those vaccinated have also received a booster, accounting for 40 percent of the region’s total adult population. Those who are still unvaccinated are likely to remain unvaccinated, the poll found: There has been little change in the vaccination rate since the last poll in August 2021.

“We still have more work to do to educate why people should receive a booster vaccine and to get their children vaccinated,” said Aaron E. Glatt, MD, Chair of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic.”

Fewer than one-half (42 percent) of respondents think the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are moving fast enough to approve COVID-19 treatments. In late December, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19, representing a major milestone in the treatment of the virus. Many more therapies are undergoing clinical trials, but the availability of therapeutics remains limited and subject to prioritization.

“Prioritizing medicine or care for groups or subsets of people when resources are limited is a highly complex issue,” says Dr. Glatt, who also serves as an associate rabbi at the Young Israel of Woodmere temple in the Five Towns, “and will be dependent on many variables, including potentially biological differences based upon genetic factors. But racial and ethnic characteristics of patients should not be the primary determinant unless it is something that directly impacts the care that is required.”

“It’s appropriate and proper that all patients have access to treatment,” adds Dr. Glatt. “As a physician, I will always try to do what is best for my patients. If a patient requires a certain kind of care, all physicians should try and provide that care.”

This is Mount Sinai South Nassau’s 12th Truth in Medicine poll and first of 2022. The poll seeks to test public knowledge and sentiment toward key public health issues.

Sponsored by Bethpage Credit Union, the poll is a survey of Long Island and New York City adult residents that aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and help spur education to improve public health. The poll was conducted January 4-9 via both landlines and cell phones with 600 residents in New York City and on Long Island. Poll findings are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

“At Bethpage, we understand that personal attention to health and wellness is essential to the quality of life of our members and the communities served by our local branches,” said Linda Armyn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bethpage Federal Credit Union. “We believe that this Truth in Medicine Poll supplies the public with insight and information that will empower it to make choices that will facilitate a safe, healthy, and robust reopening of the region for business, entertainment, dining, and outdoor activities.”

The Truth in Medicine Poll is a component of Mount Sinai South Nassau’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues. The poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, with offices in Washington and New Orleans. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in almost every state in the country and around the world.

Mount Sinai South Nassau began conducting the public health poll in January 2017. Previous polls have focused on holiday stress, HPV vaccine, legalization of recreational marijuana, vaccines and supplements, antibiotic use and misuse, screen time, and others. For more information about the polls, please visit www.southnassau.org/sn/truth-in-medicine.

About Mount Sinai South Nassau
The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai South Nassau is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care. Mount Sinai South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services and operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County, along with Long Island’s only free-standing Emergency Department in Long Beach.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, Mount Sinai South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. Mount Sinai South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. Mount Sinai South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons; is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program; and an Infectious Diseases Society of America Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence. For more information, go to www.mountsinai.org/southnassau.