Election official worked at suburban St. Louis polling place despite positive COVID-19 test

Election official worked at suburban St. Louis polling place despite positive COVID-19 test
© Greg Nash

An election official worked at a suburban St. Louis polling place that almost 2,000 voters visited on Tuesday, even though they tested positive for COVID-19 days earlier.

The election judge from St. Charles County, Missouri, who has since died, tested positive on Oct. 30 and was advised to quarantine for 14 days, according to a press release from the county’s Department of Public Health and its Election Authority.

Officials say the election judge “nevertheless failed to follow the advice” and worked at the Blanchette Park Memorial Hall polling place, which is about 25 miles northwest of St. Louis, on Election Day.

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The county did not release the election judge’s name, age, or gender, and their official cause of death has not been confirmed. 

St. Charles County Department of Public Health officials said they have reached out to election workers at the polling location and are determining where the election judge was in the days since their positive test. All of the nine election workers at the location are being urged to get tested. 

Officials say “it is not anticipated that close contacts will include any of 1,858 voters who were at the polling place Tuesday,” noting that the election judge’s job duties “do not typically include working closely with voters, handling iPads, distributing styluses, or taking voter identification.”

But the county still encouraged those who voted at the location to “watch closely” for COVID-19 symptoms.

Election officials noted that election workers were required to wear masks or face shields at all times and plexiglas barriers kept workers and voters separate.

But in September, the St. Charles County Election Authority sent an email telling poll workers to “act surprised” if voters saw them not wearing a face covering, The Associated Press reported.

“You may act surprised that you don’t have a face mask on properly and then apologize as you put the mask on,” the email stated. “Wear your mask correctly until the voter leaves the polling place. Please do this every time a voter says something to you.”

Missouri is one of several states experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases, with 3,553 new cases and 18 deaths being reported Thursday. In the past seven days, the state has recorded 17,464 new cases and 78 new deaths, according to state data

The positivity rate in Missouri is 15.2 percent, which is triple what the World Health Organization recommends.