"There’s this talk of a new normal... but I think we need to understand how we do that first.”By Andrea Alvarez

“You can learn a lot by reading but there’s just something about in person stuff that’s so much better,” explained USF senior Sean Schrader. Schrader grew up in the Bay area. “My father owns a small business in Pinellas County,” he explained.

When he saw what was happening around him during the Covid-19 pandemic, he shifted his attention from classroom research to independently analyze Tampa Bay’s workforce.

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“It’s been really disappointing seeing a lot of businesses close and I thought, if we could better understand how they’ve been affected, maybe we could support them,” he said. “It’s strange for me. I started in 2019 at USF and now I’m already a senior and this is my first year back on campus so it feels pretty weird this is already the end. Seeing the news was hard because there’s this talk of a new normal and navigating out of Covid and everything but I think we need to understand how we do that first.”

So, he visited businesses in the tourism industry, food and restaurant industry, entertainment industry, law enforcement industry, and the transportation industry. CW44’s Andrea Alvarez sat down with Schrader for an exclusive interview Wednesday to discuss his research and reason.

“Being a student in the community, trying to do this research, was it difficult?” I asked him.

“It was an idea I started in May,” said Schrader. “And I hoped it would be finished in June it would finish in June but it finished in August. The reason it took so long was because of the Covid-19 precautions. There were a lot of work around and it made it sort of difficult.”

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After a bus tour, hotel visits and casino stops, his findings were clear.

“The Gulfport casino, they can’t change a whole lot so what they sort of have adopted is a policy of your own interest. At the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office, the pandemic has really affected a lot of peoples mental health and they noticed an increase in calls.”

But he also found that future outcomes were perhaps the most important results.

“Tampa Bay really is resilient and can continue through all of this,” he said. “That was really the goal of this tour, for my awareness of what’s going on but to share that with others.”
Click here for more on those findings.

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