While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit nearly all Americans hard, the Americans hardest hit by this pandemic tend to be the same Americans who have been hardest hit by America’s general political and economic structure. Today, we have new polling data that not only confirms the anecdotal and epidemiological evidence we’ve already been running into, but also vividly illustrates the increasingly dire backdrop of this 2020 election cycle.
First, a reminder of who’s been hit the hardest
Over the past two months, we’ve listened to SEIU workers and Culinary Union workers on the harsh reality of the pandemic-era American economy. For the SEIU workers who have been deemed essential, including those medical frontline workers, they’ve had to contend with a severe shortage of PPE they need to protect themselves and others while treating people in need. For the Culinary Union workers who suddenly lost work when the casinos shut down, the vast majority of them haven’t received much more than two weeks’ worth of pay, and they’re still awaiting reassurance from their employers that they will do everything possible to protect their safety once they embark on reopening.
Both Culinary’s and SEIU’s respective memberships are majority women and majority communities of color. Regardless of how intentional this targeting is, it’s particularly jarring to see these Nevada women of color suffer while certain people in certain positions of power laugh off “control group” comments and offers of conditional loans with interest (instead of pandemic work pay).
Last week, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) released data and publicly acknowledged that Latinx residents comprise a disproportionate plurality of positively tested COVID-19 cases. For weeks, we’ve seen that in Nevada and nationwide African-Americans are getting infected at disproportionate rates. For all the talk about what more affluent white Americans are and are not willing to do to help everyone survive this pandemic, what about the communities of color who are getting hit the hardest?
So how bad has this been for Latinx Americans?
Today, Latino Decisions released a new poll they conducted for Somos Community Care (a non-profit health care providing organization in New York), Unidos US (the national Latinx civil rights group), and MoveOn that not only reflects the medical and economic data we’ve been seeing on the ground, but also how Latinx voters are responding to this crisis.
According to Latino Decisions, 58% of Latinx Americans know someone who got infected with COVID-19 and 32% know someone who has died from COVID-19. 27% say they know someone who has symptoms but hasn’t been tested. And 24% have lost employer-provided health insurance.
Digging further into Latino Decisions’ new numbers, 60% of Latinx households have experienced loss of work and/or pay, and 41% now have trouble making rent/mortgage payments. And yet, 32% have had trouble applying for unemployment insurance benefits, and 23% have so far received no Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) small business aid.
“[Essential workers] are risking everything they can to help others. We now need to do everything we can do to provide additional support.”
– U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
During a press call announcing the new poll results, the groups behind this monthly polling project gave some time for two members of Congress, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), to speak about how they’re addressing the many concerns noted in this poll. In opening, Cortez Masto bluntly pointed out, “[This poll] underscores how the Latino community has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.”
She then pointed to the racial disparity affecting Nevada workers in explaining why the federal government must do more to protect all workers. According to Cortez Masto, “Now we know, and I see this in my community, how people have been designated essential workers. They are risking everything they can to help others.” She then added, “We now need to do everything we can do to provide additional support.”
Moments later, Cortez Masto admitted that with the CARES Act, “It provided needed support, but I know it’s not enough.” She then called on Senate Republican leaders to stop blocking the HEROES Act that the House passed last Friday, and for the final HEROES Act package to include the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act that she and Senator Jacky Rosen (D) are co-sponsoring.
For Cortez Masto, “All communities deserve equal access to relief programs.” And in alluding to the latest Republican threats to withhold further relief funds unless and until they determine that’s what’s necessary to boost Trump’s poll numbers, Cortez Masto warned, “This is a fight that we have to take. This administration, and unfortunately too many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, are not willing to do enough to help everyone in our communities. And she added, “We need to reassure our communities that relief is available, and that it is safe to access.”
Elections have consequences, 2020 edition
In a very interesting twist, Latino Decisions released its new poll right around the same time Quinnipiac University released its new national poll, and just hours after YouGov and Morning Consult released their respective new surveys. While those three polls have results indicating a larger share of white voters are still comfortable with Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, Latino Decisions’ numbers show that 67% of Latinx Americans hold Trump responsible for America’s exacerbated suffering. 81% of Latinx Americans support multiple Governors’ (such as Nevada’s own Steve Sisolak’s [D]) gradual phase-in reopening versus 19% for Trump’s preferred rapid reopening en masse, and 76% support those states and municipalities that are continuing “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders against Trump’s wishes.
When it comes to the HEROES Act that the White House and Senate Republican leaders are railing against, 92% of Latinx Americans support funding for COVID-19 medical care for all, 91% support continuation of expanded unemployment insurance benefits, 91% support more emergency funds for state and local governments, 88% support a second round of $1,200+ “corona checks”, and 82% support universal access to voting by mail. Funny enough, just before this poll was released, Trump threatened to withhold federal funds for Nevada and Michigan over the states’ respective expansions of voting by mail.
While this Latino Decisions poll had no “trial heat numbers” testing Trump against former Vice President Joe Biden, their numbers nonetheless cast doubt on other pollsters’ numbers suggesting Trump may win over more Latinx voters this year than he did in 2016. And yet, even with them showing higher Latinx voter approval of Trump than Latino Decisions, Morning Consult and YouGov give Biden a 5% overall national lead while Quinnipiac has Biden up 11% over Trump nationwide.
So if Trump and his Republican allies in Congress don’t address the pressing matters affecting Latinx Americans soon, Latinx voters may very well teach them the hard way that their lives and their votes matter.
If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health District, Washoe County Health District, Carson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.