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Voting in person? Here’s how to prevent spread of coronavirus on Election Day

Health First chief physician executive explains what voters should and shouldn’t do on Election Day

As Election Day nears will crowds of voters mean a higher health risk of coronavirus?

Dr. Timothy Laird, chief physician executive at Health First spoke to News 6 Health Reporter Kirstin O’Connor about the best practices for voting in person on election day.

Below is their interview, edited for clarity:

O’Connor: Should voters even be worried about going in person and voting on Election Day?

Dr. Laird: “No I don’t think they should, if you are safe and you practice the common sense guidelines that we all know by now as far as keeping distance six feet or so from the next person everyone is wearing masks, don’t show up if you’re not wearing a mask.”

O’Connor:: If you show up to the polls and there’s a long line how can you safely stand in line or approach that situation with caution?

A: “Good question, voting really is all of our civic duty, we need to vote, if there is a long line, that really doesn’t matter as long as you maintain your 6 feet distance, everybody’s masked and that sort of thing. If you feel like there’s a lot people without a mask, and it’s really hard to keep that distance, see if you can vote at a different time.”

O’Connor:: What about if you’ve already recovered from COVID? Does that make you more or less likely to give it to someone else or contract it if you are going to vote in person?

Dr. Laird: “So two rules, you have to have had no fever for three days, and it has to be ten days from when you got COVID, when you first came down with symptoms. So if it’s been ten days since you got it and you haven’t had a fever for three days generally you’re considered not contagious, and so you can go vote, so it doesn’t matter that you had COVID.”

O’Connor: Is the sanitizing enough, or do people need to be thinking about wearing gloves when they go to vote in person?

Dr. Laird: “Good question, we discourage gloves other than in healthcare settings. Gloves have their own problems, they’re actually harder to sanitize when you take them off you risk contaminating yourself, so don’t worry about gloves. Soap and water or hand sanitizing is the best, you know I bring my own pen when I go places, so think about doing that. If you do touch a pen, sanitize your hands again with the hand gel, that’s not a primary transmission mode we think. We think it’s mostly person-to-person respiratory droplets that sort of thing, so I wouldn’t worry too much, yet mitigate your risks with the hand sanitizer.”

O’Connor: When you’ve gone to vote in years past, they usually have some barriers on each side while you’re sitting there with your ballot. Would those barriers be appropriate in keeping people more separated from one another?

Dr. Laird: “That’ll help, I mean that’s the kind of barriers you’re seeing go up in grocery stores and other places, you’re right, voting systems have those anyway. So that’ll even be of help. Voting will probably be less of a concern than even what a lot of us do in our daily lives, going to the grocery store and things like that, so I think any little partition and things like that will help, but I don’t think anybody needs to not vote because of their fear, there are plenty of ways to vote safely this year.”


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