NASHVILLE—Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group (ERG) has called upon the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the university’s Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS) to assist in the collection and analysis of survey data. The group will conduct surveys every other week throughout the summer to track citizens’ sense of safety and economic well-being as the state reopens. The first round of data was released online today at

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve taken a data-driven approach to evaluate and formulate the best response to protect lives and livelihoods,” said Gov. Lee. “Business owners across Tennessee have really stepped up to adapt their practices to protect employees and customers, and this survey will help us gain a better understanding of how we can meet the needs of Tennesseans during this time of immense change.”

“The collaborative partnership between the Baker Center and SWORPS will provide expert-level data collection and analysis, giving a welcome perspective to policymakers,” said Matt Murray, director of the Baker Center. “It is important for state and local leaders to have the best information available regarding Tennesseans’ attitudes towards the reopening of economy, and the Baker Center is excited to be in a position to help.”

“Tennessee is leading the way as Governor Lee believes in the power of research and data to drive decisions and protect the citizens of this great state,” added Mark Ezell, Director, Economic Recovery Group. “It’s important to Governor Lee, ERG and all Tennesseans that we continue to do robust research to understand both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and we’re pleased to partner with UT on this initiative.”

According to the data, the economic impacts of COVID-19 are just as real as the health impacts to many Tennesseans. Overall, 77% of respondents support the Tennessee Pledge, and most report taking additional precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The survey polled 1,100 Tennesseans in both metro and rural areas and covers such COVID-related topics as health and economic concerns, personal financial impact, activity reengagement, COVID-19 prevention and Tennessee Pledge. Baker Center researchers who are part of the university’s CORE-19 team helped form the survey questions in cooperation with the governor’s ERG and will provide research support throughout the data collection process. SWORPS, a center in the university’s College of Social Work, will coordinate administration of the survey and offer technical support and evaluation expertise.

Tennessee began a phased reopening under the Tennessee Pledge, a plan to help Tennesseans get back to work safely and reboot the economy. Restaurants resumed business with limited capacity on April 27, quickly followed by a number of additional industries enabling tens thousands of Tennesseans to return to work.

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