Compass survey: Virus led to financial and health anxiety

Some of the Compass survey respondents said they were anxious about contracting while others said the restrictions -- like limiting the number of people allowed in grocery stores -- went too far. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Most Cayman residents worried about health, money, jobs or the mental side effects of the shelter-in-place and curfew restrictions. Results from an online survey carried out by the Cayman Compass earlier this year shows nearly half of all survey respondents (43%) still feel either anxious and afraid or pessimistic about the future.

Incomes are down
Many survey participants stated that their household income had taken a hit during the lockdown. The number of respondents who put their household income at less than $50,000 a year jumped from 15% before the crisis to 26% during the lockdown.

About 16.6% said their income was not high enough to meet basic needs in terms of shelter, food and healthcare and 5.5% of those said they had already been struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many the declining incomes are closely related to fears about their employment.

Nearly 12% of respondents said they had already lost their job and 30% did not feel that their employment was safe in the current environment. More than a third (40.6%) said they are likely to face either pay cuts, furlough or redundancy.

“Loss of revenue / lost job/ my real estate is worth much less and not earning income,” one respondent wrote. “These restrictions will prove to be the end of me in Cayman.”

The worst effects of the pandemic
For roughly 56% of respondents, international travel restrictions and the border closures were the most stressful personal side effects of the pandemic.

“It’s just a small minded government making rules and encouraging tattle taling adults,” wrote one survey taker. “Why can’t you sit on the beach? Why can’t you read/relax on the beach and take in the Vitamin D? Ticket those who break the law and leave others alone.”

The possibility of contracting the coronavirus was expressed by 44% as a main concern and 37% mentioned mental health issues as one of the most stressful factors.

Economic uncertainty (55%) and the inability to pay bills (24%) were other predominant fears of survey respondents.

And more than a third (39%) said they found the shelter in place restrictions and the inability to access the beach (34%) to be the most stressful aspects of the pandemic.

Education and childcare
The sudden lack of childcare and the impromptu switch to remote learning were another source of anxiety for many parents.

Only 23.3% of the participants with children under the age of 12 said they had some childcare support during the lockdown.

About 80% said they had to dedicate several hours of their time to help their children with home schooling. However, more than two thirds of respondents (72.7%) said they received enough support from their schools for remote learning and 67.3% said schools had provided them with equipment and materials. More than 93% of children of community members participating in the survey had access to online tools to continue their schooling from home.

Overall, 15.2% of all respondents named childcare and 24.9% stated homeschooling was the most stressful aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was not all doom and gloom during the lockdown. More than 50% said they enjoyed spending more time with their family and 39% enjoyed connecting with friends and loved ones virtually.

Many found joy in exercising more, cooking and having the time for leisure activities, like playing games, reading or watching movies.

And 36% of respondents said seeing the community pull together was one of the positives of their lockdown experience.

Given the restrictions on retail trade and visiting restaurants and bars, and other activities, most people (53%) found that they spent a lot less money since the crisis began. More than a quarter said they spent a little bit less and only 19% noted that there was either no change or they spent more during that time.

“What will happen when the islands are totally Covid free and the borders open? Back to square one. Without immunity and Covid running its course, the islands will be at terrible risk.”

The vast majority is not expecting an immediate return to normal. Less than one-third believes it will take until the summer or fall for life to return to what it was like before the pandemic. About 43% do not anticipate a more or less normal life before either the end of the year or the end of the first quarter 2021. And 21% said it would take at least until a vaccine or a cure is found. More than 7% think that life will never “return to normal”.

“What will happen when the islands are totally Covid free and the borders open? Back to square one. Without immunity and Covid running its course, the islands will be at terrible risk,” one person wrote.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now