• Autumn Brewster, Austin Daly & Abby Ocampo

COVID-19 Effects on Nevadans and their Vote

Autumn Brewster, Austin Daly and Abby Ocampo reach out to Nevada residents who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how their views on this upcoming presidential election have changed.

Nevadans have received an assortment of campaign-related mail, some of it COVID-19 related.

A State Hard Hit by the Economic Effects of the Pandemic

After COVID-19 hit, and businesses closed either temporarily or permanently, and the tourism-dependent state of Nevada, was hit particularly hard this past spring, the Nevada Unemployment office was backed up with tens of thousands of requests, causing benefits to take weeks or even months to process. Residents in Nevada and other states as well were struggling to find ways to keep food on the table and provide for their families.

Although businesses are slowly opening back up, many people are still unemployed due to the pandemic. In March, Congress passed the CARES Act, giving an extra $600 a week to the unemployed but that ended at the end of July. With lack of financial stability and lack of support from our government, many citizens are voicing their opinions on how the pandemic has affected their lives and how it will affect their votes.

“I’m not like a registered Republican or anything, but I voted for Trump [in 2016],” said Mario Dutra, a 53 year old hardware store employee in Reno who was laid off because of COVID-19 in March.

Dutra has been relying on state unemployment funds and his savings in order to get by, causing him to rethink what issues matter to him this election season.

Hoping against Hope for a New Stimulus Bill

“I guess my main issue is a stimulus bill, and I don’t really see either party making that a priority right now,” said Dutra.

On October 6, 2020, President Donald Trump announced an end to stimulus talks with Congress until after the election. That announcement, whether a bluffing tactic for ongoing negotiations or not, marked the end of Dutra’s support for the president.

“There were a lot of things I didn’t agree with since Trump became president, but I just don’t understand why he didn’t want to increase unemployment. We’re in a pandemic, that’s like my livelihood, it definitely cost me my vote again.”

While stimulus negotiations have picked back up between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in recent days, Dutra is pessimistic of any results.

“I voted for him in 2016 because I had grown up around my very conservative grandparents and I wasn’t aware of how dangerous he would be,” said Carley Davidson, a 22 year old Reno native, of her previous support for the Republican incumbent being challenged by Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden.

Davidson lived with her grandparents during the peak of the first wave of COVID-19, and was worried about having to support herself while living with her at-risk elderly relatives.

“I treated it like a joke when I voted for him because I thought it was funny, but now with everything happening with the pandemic, I understand that he continues to put his personal agendas above the safety and well-being of people,” she said.

A survey we conducted got multiple responses to different questions.

Feeling Weakened

One survey responder Angie Gobran described her change in overall outlook. “The US is not as powerful as it seems because it can’t even contain a pandemic or provide the citizens with relief,” she said.

“I’m voting for Biden because hopefully with his stimulus plan and COVID-19 relief strategy, it’ll actually help small businesses and families instead of the 1%,” said Bridget Escobedo, a University of Nevada, Reno student, echoing a popular refrain of Democratic party rallies.

Escodebo’s family runs a small business in Las Vegas which she says has not benefited from the stimulus. “So much of the 1% received relief even though just one of their paychecks could pay college tuition for more than I’ve been alive,” she said.

Reporting by Autumn Brewster, Austin Daly and Abby Ocampo for the Reynolds Sandbox

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