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Illinois Democratic official says primary volunteers quitting amid outbreak

The executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party said Monday that the party is struggling to gather enough volunteers for Tuesday’s primary election as the coronavirus spreads across the country.

Mary Morrissey called for volunteers who are outside of the population most vulnerable to the virus  when speaking with Hill.TV on Monday. She confirmed that the party has seen volunteers drop out because of the virus.

“That is the biggest crisis in terms of the election right now is we need election judges,” she said. 

“It’s critical that we have election judges tomorrow,” she added.

The Illinois Democrat said “one of the biggest challenges for the election authorities” was finding new locations for voting after polling places were moved out of nursing homes. She noted that school closures have allowed more school buildings to become available for polling.

“In terms of efforts to protect volunteers and protect workers, the election authorities have made sure that the workers have gloves, that there’s hand sanitizer,” she said, adding that when she voted Friday there was sanitizer at every voting station. 

The state’s primary will take place Tuesday amid the outbreak that has shaken the nation and caused the cancellation of many public events.

Other states voting on Tuesday include Arizona, Florida and Ohio, the last of which has also reported volunteer shortages.

During the coronavirus outbreak, health officials have encouraged Americans to participate in social distancing practices, where they eliminate close contact with other individuals and stay away from public places. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 4,000 Monday, with 69 deaths and 12 recoveries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.