More Data, Better Planning, Less Politics: Chapter 1

UST COVID-19 Resident Survey 1 highlights: The role of information in managing the pandemic and COVID-19 related knowledge gaps.

3 min readJun 5, 2020

Update: Chapter 2 is now posted.

The USTomorrow community was invited to help inform a national assessment of COVID-19 impacts on households and businesses. The surveys were conducted by UST partner Polco on its civic engagement platform. The questions were developed by the National Research Center (NRC) and implemented by UST, NRC and other groups across the country. The resulting data are being used by state and local governments to navigate through this pandemic.

A big thank you to those of you who completed the UST Resident Survey 1! The response was more than enough to deliver statistical relevance.

The UST Resident Survey 2 is up and waiting for your input. Please take a minute to make a difference.

Over the next 4 weeks, we’ll be sharing UST Resident Survey 1 highlights to keep you up to date on the key trends impacting the nation. These highlights provide insight into the UST community, the national community as recruited by UST partner NRC and other groups, and comparisons of the two.

Highlight #1: Information is Key to Managing this Pandemic

Many of us have lived through natural disasters such as floods, fires and hurricanes. But a crisis like COVID-19 is new territory for all. In times of crisis, governments play a large role in educating and communicating with residents, ideally without spreading misinformation or causing undue panic. In past pandemics (e.g. Ebola, Polio, AIDS), poor and missing information were among the greatest failings in public health response.

To close knowledge and communication gaps quickly, governments are working to understand how their residents get information and how knowledgeable they are about critical information related to the virus, its spread, and related community regulations, policies, and programs.

Figure 1 below presents the key information sources used by UST respondents and the nation. UST respondents reported that local television was their preferred information source for critical information on COVID-19 in their communities. About 7 in 10 UST followers said this news source was essential or very important. Local government websites were rated as key for about two-thirds of respondents. Patterns for the UST community were similar to the nation except that UST respondents expressed a stronger preference for local television. UST respondents reported a greater use of all local media outlets when compared to the national counterparts.

Figure 1: Importance of Information Sources

In NRC’s national survey, respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge with specific aspects of the pandemic. Residents reported being at least somewhat informed on crucial behaviors to help slow the spread of the virus. The biggest knowledge gaps related to current community laws and regulations associated with COVID-19 and what actions to take if a household member shows symptoms of the virus.

Figure 2. Resident Knowledge of Key Pandemic Management Strategies

As our communities move through this pandemic, needs for new and different types of information will arise. Currently there is a critical need across America for information related to local regulations and the reopening of communities. Information that is essential for managing both our health and economic recovery from COVID-19.

Next Steps

Please take the UST Resident Survey 2 to allow us to dig deeper into the following topics:

  • How do residents feel about recovery and eliminating quarantine measures?
  • What policies or actions ease residents’ minds or make them more comfortable or uncomfortable?
  • How has COVID-19 affected resident spending and are those spending changes short term?
  • What challenges do residents face going back to work?

Click here to take the UST Resident Survey 2!

And thank you!




Using new data to educate and engage community coalitions on the issues left behind by today’s divisive politics.