The federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is on the ballot this year as President Trump runs for reelection in a country that’s seen over 7 million people test positive for COVID-19 and over 210,000 die from the virus. Middle school teacher Claire Porter, who’s currently on medical leave, spoke with KUNM about how her family’s experience of the pandemic underpins her vote for a different federal approach.
"My name is Claire Porter. I teach U.S. history to eighth graders with Albuquerque Public Schools. I am married to a teacher, as well. We have two small children.
My husband and I, shortly into the pandemic, realized that our son was high risk for serious complications with the coronavirus. And we were encouraged by our pediatrician to not have any sort of childcare for him. So, we realized that one of us would need to stay home. So, I took family medical leave, unpaid, for the whole year. If I had applied for ADA accommodations or taken a remote learning opportunity, I would have to reapply for my same position the next year. I felt mentally better about being able to take a year knowing I could come back to the job I love instead of having my entire career upended with all this uncertainty. We're at now a single teacher family income. So, we've been kind of trying to tighten things up at home.
I already felt like I've definitely agreed with [Joe] Biden's platform. However, I would say that the pandemic has certainly strengthened that position. I think having our country represent 4% of the world's population but having 20% of the world's deaths is just really inexcusable. And then, sickness and disability and long-term effects that people are going to be dealing with from having the disease. Not to mention the economy. I think if it was handled better, we would be in a much better situation today than we are.
I would like to see politicians really try to focus on some relief packages for middle- and lower-class families. Then, do maybe some national mask mandates. I know that we're lagging behind several other countries with things like contact tracing, and I know that's probably going to be a hard pill for Americans to swallow. But it would allow us to maybe pinpoint pockets where outbreaks are happening and maybe deal with those more on an individual level rather than shutting down everything all at once.
I have my mail-in ballot ready. I'm planning on dropping it off at an early voting site to limit contact. I'm excited because I think New Mexico has a lot of options to vote. We don't all have to wait till the last day and stand in line with a bunch of people."
For more information on how to register to vote and cast your ballot, visit NMvote.org.