While the number of cases of COVID-19 across the state continue to climb, pollsters have shown an ideological divide in people’s reactions to the novel coronavirus.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Thursday that there were 860 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 111,078.

Locally, the counts remained the same. Elk County has had 42 cases, McKean, 26, Potter, 20 and Cameron, 5.

The number of tests administered within the last 7 days between July 23 and July 29 is 163,936 with 6,822 positive cases. There were 22,996 test results reported to the department through 10 p.m., July 29. These results represent the total number of tests administered.

There have been 7,176 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 14 new deaths reported.

Also on Thursday, Franklin & Marshall College released the results of its July 2020 poll, which dealt with issues including COVID-19 and the approval rating of Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf.

The poll results show 32% of respondents had significant concern over coronavirus, listing it as the top issue facing the nation. One in five respondents said a family member or close friend had contracted COVID-19, “although most (63%) think they are unlikely to contract it during the next three months.”

The mask issue was divisive, with 88% of liberals and 84% of moderates believing it is extremely important to wear a face mask when outside the home, compared to less than half (42%) of conservatives.

The poll results showed, too, that 78% of conservatives and 63% of moderates polled believed they were unlikely to contract COVID-19. Less than half (45%) of liberals polled shared that view.

In a related issue, the popularity of Gov. Tom Wolf was gauged among the respondents. In the Franklin & Marshall poll, Wolf remained popular. More than half (55%) had a favorable opinion of Wolf, and 52% ranked his performance as excellent or good.

“Democrats (78%) and independents (57%) provide more favorable job ratings for the governor than do Republicans (21%), but the differences among ideological groups are even more pronounced,” read a release on the poll results. “Nine in ten (90%) liberals, two in three (65%) moderates, but only one in seven (13%) conservatives provides the governor with positive job ratings.”

People’s faith in the path forward in Pennsylvania seemed to be wavering, though.

According to the poll, about “half (48%) of the state’s registered voters believe the state is ‘headed in the right direction,’ which is below the recent high of 57% reported in October, 2019.”

Yet the general optimism is holding, despite significant concern about COVID-19, the poll noted. But that optimism wasn’t as strong when it came to finances. The poll noted, “Fewer voters report being financially ‘better off’ (20%) today and fewer expect to be ‘better off’ (17%) financially next year compared to January. Only one in four (24%) registered voters believes that the United States is ‘headed in the right direction,’ down from two in five (38%) in January.”

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