COVID-19 Information

June 10 – Testing 2

DESPITE INCREASED TESTING CAPACITY IN NH, DEMAND FOR TESTS WANES AMONG GRANITE STATERS

Prepared by:

University of New Hampshire Dartmouth College
Sean P. McKinley, M.A. Judy Rees, B.M., B.Ch., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Tracy E. Keirns, Ph.D. Leila Mott, M.S.
Zachary S. Azem, M.A. Janet Peacock, Ph.D.
Andrew E. Smith, Ph.D.

DURHAM, NH - Despite increasing testing capacity in the state, demand for testing among New Hampshire residents has declined considerably since May. Half of Granite Staters want or have already had an antibody test to determine if they have had COVID-19, down from more than three-quarters who wanted one in early May. Meanwhile, only one in seven residents want a test to determine if they currently have COVID-19. Many of those who would like these tests mention not knowing where to go to get a test, a lack of symptoms, and concerns about insurance or payment as reasons they have not yet been tested. One in six residents think it is very or somewhat likely they have or already had COVID-19, slightly lower than in early May.

These findings are based on the Dartmouth College-UNH Survey Center New Hampshire COVID-19 Study*, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. In the most recent iteration of the survey, seven hundred ninety-one (791) Granite State Panel members who had completed the baseline survey in early April completed a survey online between June 1 and June 4, 2020. Data were weighted by respondent sex, age, education, and region of the state to targets from the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as party registration levels provided by the New Hampshire Secretary of State. The Granite State Panel is part of an effort by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center to investigate new ways of gathering and understanding the opinion of New Hampshire residents. Granite State Panel members are recruited from randomly-selected landline and cell phone numbers across New Hampshire and surveys are sent periodically to panel members.

Perceived Previous of Current Contraction of COVID-19

One in six New Hampshire residents think it very (3%) or somewhat (13%) likely that they already had or currently have COVID-19. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Granite Staters believe it is not very (34%) or not at all (38%) likely that they have or already had COVID-19, while 12% don't know or are unsure. The percentage of respondents who believe it is very or somewhat likely that they have or have had COVID-19 has slightly declined since early May.

Compared to early May, the proportion of Granite Staters who believe it is very or somewhat likely that they currently have or have had COVID-19 has slightly declined. However, opinion on this question varies among the following groups.

  • Respondents aged 60 and older are less likely than in early May to believe they have or already had COVID-19 while those under 30 are more likely to believe this to be true.
  • Women are slightly less likely than in early May to believe they have or already had COVID-19 and are now as likely as men to believe this to be true.
  • Far fewer first responders than in early May believe they have or have had COVID-19, but an increased number of frontline workers believe this to be true.
  • Those who have experience physical symptoms in the previous week and those who are experiencing anxiety or depression are more likely than in May to believe they have or have had COVID-19.

Current COVID-19 Infection Testing

Five percent of Granite Staters have had a laboratory test in the past four weeks to determine if they are currently infected with COVID-19, up slightly from the four weeks preceding early May (1.7%) and early April (.9%). Nearly all who have had a lab test report that the test came back negative.

Demand for Current COVID-19 Infection Testing

As the state expands its COVID-19 testing capacity, demand for testing to determine if a person in currently infected has declined since early May. Only one in seven (14%) Granite Staters would like such a test, down from 24% in May, while nearly two-thirds (65%) do not want such a test and 21% don't know or are unsure.

Demand for current COVID-19 infection tests has declined considerably among nearly all of the following groups since early May, with substantial drops among Western NH residents (-23percentagepoints), those who have worked in a healthcare setting (-18), registered Democrats (-14), women (-14), and those aged 60 and older (-14). However, the proportion of those under 30 who would like a current infection test (32%) has more than doubled since May. Demand for current infection testing has declined among those who have experienced symptoms in the past week, the past month, at some point since April, and among those who have never reported any symptoms since April.

Reasons for Not Being Tested for Current Infection

Among those who would like to be tested for a current infection but have not yet, more than half (57%) say they have not been tested because they don't have serious enough symptoms and 44% say they have not been tested because they don't know where to go or how to get a test. A quarter (25%) say they have not been tested because their healthcare provider could not or would not give them a test, 20% have not been tested because of the cost of testing or lack of insurance or because testing is not easily available in their area. Fewer residents cite a lack of transportation (15%), worry about getting sick at the testing site (7%), or something else (5%) as a reason that they have not yet been tested.

Compared to early May, respondents who want a test are more likely to cite not knowing where to go or how to get a test and their healthcare provider being unable or unwilling to give them a test as a reason they have not yet been tested.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Only 2.2% of Granite Staters have had a test in the past four weeks to determine if they have COVID-19 antibodies. Among those who have had such a test, nearly all report that their test came back negative.

Demand for COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Only half of Granite Staters (50%) would like a test that tells you in you have had or already had COVID-19 (i.e. an antibody test) or say that they have already had such a test; 28% do not want such a test while 23% don't know or are unsure.

This stands in contrast to early May, when respondents were asked if they would like a test such as this if one were available. At that time, more than three-quarters (78%) of New Hampshire residents said they would like such a test, 10% said they would not, and 12% said they didn't know or were unsure.

Demand for antibody testing has declined precipitously among all of the following groups.

  • Among residents over the age of 60, despite being more vulnerable to COVID-19 than younger people, less than half want antibody testing, down from more than three-quarters in early May.
  • Demand among first respondents and healthcare workers has declined by nearly 30 percentage points since early May, while demand among frontline workers has fallen by a slightly smaller margin.
  • Registered Democrats and those who are undeclared remain slightly more likely then registered Republicans to want an antibody test, but demand among all three groups has declined by about 30 percentage points since early May.
  • Only 55% of those who have experienced physical symptoms in the past month and 78% of those who think it is very or somewhat likely that they currently have or had COVID-19 would like an antibody test, each down from 93% in early May.
  • Demand for antibody testing has declined by more than twenty-five percentage points in all five major regions. Demand in Hillsborough County and the Seacoast, where most of the cases in the state have occurred, is no higher elsewhere in the state.

Reasons for Not Being Tested for Antibodies

Among those who would like an antibody test, just over half (51%) say they have not been tested because they don't know where to go or how to get a test. A quarter (24%) say they have not been tested because they don't know if their health insurance plan covers the test, 17% cite testing not being easily available in their area, and 16% cite worries about getting sick at the testing site. Fewer respondents mention the cost of testing or a lack of insurance (6%), lack of transportation (3%), their healthcare provider being unable or unwilling to order this test (2%), or their health insurance plan not covering the test (2%) as reasons they have not yet been tested. A quarter (25%) of respondents mention another reason, many of which concern the accuracy or validity of antibody tests currently available.

Respondents who are underinsured or have no health insurance are more likely than others to cite problems with insurance as a reason they have not yet had an antibody test. More than two-thirds (69%) of those who are underinsured or uninsured haven't been tested because they don't know where to go or how to get a test, while one-third say they haven't been tested because they don't know if their health insurance plan covers the test (32%) or because of the cost of testing or lack of insurance (32%).

Dartmouth College-UNH Survey Center New Hampshire COVID-19 Study Methodology

These findings are based on the Dartmouth College-UNH Survey Center New Hampshire COVID-19 Study, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. One thousand and twenty-nine (1,029) Granite State Panel members completed an initial survey online between April 3 and April 5, 2020. Data were weighted by respondent sex, age, education, and region of the state to targets from the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as party registration levels provided by the New Hampshire Secretary of State. The Granite State Panel is part of an effort by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center to investigate new ways of gathering and understanding the opinion of New Hampshire residents.

Granite State Panel members are recruited from randomly-selected landline and cell phone numbers across New Hampshire. Respondents to the Granite State Poll were asked if they wished to participate in further research and asked to provide an email address. Those who agreed and provided an email address were added to the panel. Panel members were also recruited by texting a random sample of cellular telephones in the state and inviting the recipient to take a short survey.

For each survey which they complete, panel members are entered into quarterly drawings to earn rewards, such as gift certificates from statewide and internet companies. Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100%.

For more information about the Dartmouth College-UNH Survey Center New Hampshire COVID-19 study, please visit:

 https://cola.unh.edu/unh-survey-center/projects/dartmouthunh-covid-19-survey

For more information about the Granite State Panel, please contact Dr. Andrew Smith at (603) 862-2226 or by email at andrew.smith@unh.edu or visit:

 https://cola.unh.edu/unh-survey-center/projects/granite-state-panel

This project is supported by emergency funding from The Hitchcock Foundation, Dartmouth College COVID-19 "Spark" funding, the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, and in-kind support by UNH Survey Center staff.