With new information and breaking news reports swirling as the state tries to reopen amid a national surge in COVID-19 cases, we know leaders are having to make big decisions that will affect their businesses, employees and customers -- and they’re often having to do so with imperfect data. In an effort to provide you better data with which to make decisions, the Business Record and Iowa-based research firm SPPG + Essman Research quickly teamed up to administer a scientific survey aimed at helping you and your business best understand the sentiment around a variety of issues related to COVID-19. The story that follows contains highlights from that survey compiled by Staff Writer Kate Hayden, and we are making the full results of the survey public and available for community use. The survey questions explored Iowans’ concerns and comfort levels on reopening and economic recovery around a variety of activities such as work, traveling, dining out, shopping and attending events in our new COVID-19 world. Having a better understanding of how our community is feeling, reacting and adapting to the COVID-19 challenge will put us all in a better position to make the best possible decisions.

— Chris Conetzkey, publisher and executive editor of the Business Record

The majority of Iowa employers consider protecting the health of employees and customers their greatest concern as Iowa’s economy recovers from COVID-19 and the effects of shutdown, a new survey commissioned by the Business Record and led by SPPG + Essman Research found. Additionally, 67% of all Iowans surveyed believe it will take 12 months or longer for the Iowa economy to recover from COVID-19. 

The survey, which collected answers from the greater Des Moines business community from June 29 to July 2, is designed to track how Iowans are recovering and judging the safety of normal life in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Out of 1,027 Iowans surveyed, 18% identified themselves as organization leaders or managers responsible for decision-making. 

By the end of the survey’s window on July 2, Iowa public officials reported a total of 29,966 positive cases since the virus reached the state in March. 


The majority of Iowans surveyed, 81%, reported they are concerned about a spike in COVID-19 among the community over the summer months. Eighty-eight percent of women reported concern over a spike in the coming months, compared with 72% of men. Women also tended to report greater unease: 56% of women and 39% of men identified as “very concerned,” compared with 32% of women and 33% of men who identified as “somewhat concerned.” 

Eighty-one percent of organization leaders or managers surveyed said that protecting the health of employees and customers was their greatest concern about reopening and recovery of their business; followed by 53% who reported a resurgence of COVID-19 and a second shutdown of their workplace as their greatest concern. 

The majority of Iowans surveyed, 36%, reported working from home due directly to the impact of COVID-19. Two percent reported not working due to furloughs. 

Nearly two-thirds of employees who reported being furloughed or working from home reported being concerned about the risk to their health if they returned to their workplaces despite reassurances from their employers about COVID-19 precautions being in place. Sixty-nine percent of employees ages 65 and older reported concern for their health if they returned to the office, followed closely by 68% of workers ages 51-64, 63% of workers ages 35-50 and 61% of workers ages 18-34.