Reopening boosts governors’ approval ratings

reopening governors approval ratings
From left to right: Governors João Doria (São Paulo), Ibaneis Rocha (Brasília), Wilson Witzel (Rio). Photo: GOVESP

A poll by DataPoder360 suggests that state governors and municipal mayors have enjoyed a boost in approval ratings over the past two weeks — precisely as states begin reopening their economies. Experts, however, cautioned that it is too soon for a return to normalcy and that infection and death curves could spike over the next few weeks.

Researchers from the University of São Paulo and Fundação Getulio Vargas project a 71-percent increase in coronavirus deaths in the state of São Paulo by the end of the month. So far, the virus has killed over 10,500 people in the country’s most populous state.

Those who assess governors’ performance during the pandemic tend to be more critical of President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. In the Northeast — a left-wing stronghold — governors’ approval ratings sit at 56 percent, while in the South, where support for the president is stronger, only 23 percent of voters approve of their state administrators.

The need for lockdown

Contrary to what regional administrations are doing, epidemiologist Pedro Curi Hallal says Brazil shouldn’t be loosening social isolation rules — it should be making them stricter. Mr. Hallal, dean of the Federal University of Pelotas, supports a “strong, 15-day lockdown” as the only way to flatten the infection curve in the country. “Rapidly, Brazil could fall to the same level as countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, or the U.S.,” he said.

Research from consulting firm Bain & Company goes in the same direction, and suggests that at least seven Brazilian states face a great risk of needing a full-scale lockdown in the near future.

But according to Matthew Richmond, a research fellow at the London School of Economics, it would be nearly impossible for authorities to impose strict isolation measures at this moment. “Law enforcement wouldn’t have enough structure to enforce them without a major public buy-in. But deteriorating economic conditions and a decrease of popular support for isolation make that a long shot,” he told The Brazilian Report.