When Americans voted in this presidential election, they made it clear that of all the crucial issues facing the country, the coronavirus pandemic towered over the rest.
They remained diametrically opposed, however, on how the pandemic reflected on President Trump.
In the Midwest — states that were battlegrounds in the presidential race and where the virus has soared — supporters of Mr. Trump defended his handling of the crisis, praised his efforts to revive the economy and echoed his claims that the dangers of the virus have been overblown.
Those who voted for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. often said that Mr. Trump’s response to the pandemic had given them one more urgent reason to vote him out.
“We need somebody in office who has a game plan,” said Gabrielle Young, a 30-year-old health care worker in Kenosha, Wis.
Ms. Young said she had never cared about politics in the past. But that changed this year.
She said she was disgusted by Mr. Trump’s dismissal of masks and his shoulder-to-shoulder rallies, including one he hosted on the eve of the election in Wisconsin, which Mr. Biden went on to narrowly win.
In Ohio, where coronavirus hospitalizations are at a peak, Mr. Trump triumphed on Tuesday just as he did in 2016, sweeping northeastern counties that were once Democratic strongholds.
Mr. Trump’s supporters said they saw little reason to punish him for the pandemic.
“I’m not as afraid of Covid as I am as a bad economy,” said Ish Soltay, 51, of Avon Lake, a suburb west of Cleveland.
Mr. Soltay’s county, Lorain, which was once reliably Democratic, went for Hillary Clinton by just 131 votes in 2016. On Tuesday, it appeared to move farther right, flipping to Mr. Trump, according to preliminary vote totals.
Twelve states around the Midwest added more cases in the seven-day period ending Tuesday than in any other week of the pandemic, a sign of the rapidly worsening situation in the center of the country.
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