May 13th, 2020

SMS Community Pulse: Community Views on COVID-19

For Immediate Release May 13, 2020, Honolulu, HI: A significant majority of residents believe that the Hawai‘i government’s response to COVID-19 is going in the right direction (64%), based on a survey just completed by SMS Research & Marketing Services Inc (SMS). Forty-nine percent of adults believe that the situation is slowly getting better.


SMS conducted this study to provide decision makers throughout the community a way to understand how residents are thinking and feeling about the COVID-19 situation we are all in together. "There have been surveys with businesses, but we felt it was important to hear how our residents were feeling and how likely they will be to venture out as businesses reopen" said Hersh Singer, SMS Chairman. "Based on the survey results, many adults in Hawai‘i will be taking a "wait and see" approach to venturing out to businesses when they reopen. "SMS plans to undertake conduct similar future surveys to provide insights on how the community’s attitudes and concern change over time.


The policies that more adults would like to change immediately include opening beaches and parks to unlimited activity (37%) and opening businesses (31%). The majority of adults would like the following policies to stay in place for two months or longer: keep social distancing of six feet (65%), discourage tourists from coming (61%), no large group gatherings (61%), no team sports (60%) and keep schools/universities closed (54%).


When hair salons/barbershops open, 37 percent of adults say they would visit them immediately. Adults will take a "wait and see" attitude to visiting sit-down restaurants (75%), shopping centers (69%), movie theaters/plays (67%) and even large sporting events open to the public (61%).


Other highlights of the survey include:

  • Most residents (70%) are still very or somewhat worried about someone in their family getting sick from COVID-19 (39% somewhat worried, 31% very worried.)
  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents say that their life has been disrupted by the coronavirus situation a great deal (27%) and a fair amount (39%).
  • 19 percent or more than 200,000 adults in Hawai‘i worry about having sufficient food for their families in the future.
  • About 68 percent of residents who were employed in February report they were still working at the time of the survey either from home and/or their workplace. Twenty percent report being laid off temporarily (18%) or permanently (2%).
  • Overall, to manage their finances some residents are drawing on savings (17%), 12 percent are running into debt and 7 percent are relying on others for financial support.
  • Given an option 44 percent of adults currently employed would prefer to be back at their workplace once restrictions are lifted, 15 percent would prefer to work at home and 29 percent would like the option of doing both depending on the situation.
  • More than half of residents are feeling worried or stressed during these trying times. However, one-third at least have found some happiness. Other discouraging feelings include sadness (29%) and helplessness (28%).


The SMS Community Pulse Survey was conducted from May 5th through May 10th statewide through a panel of Hawai‘i respondents. A total of 402 surveys were completed. A probability sample of this size would have a sampling error estimate of +/-4.8 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Data was balanced to reflect the adult population of the state using the 2018 U.S Census Data. SMS plans to conduct this survey approximately every three weeks for the next few months.


For more details about the survey results, please open the SMS Community Pulse Survey Results PDF attachment.

This study was published on the front page of the May 14th, 2020 edition of the Star Advertiser.

Client Testimonials

"YMCA of Honolulu is grateful to the SMS team for its outstanding work in helping us better understand the communities we serve and with our strategic planning. It is a pleasure to work with their knowledgeable staff."

— Larry H. Bush, President & CEO
YMCA of Honolulu

SMS Business Process
Copyright © 2020 SMS. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy