Election Day link uncertain after poll workers across US test positive for COVID-19

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People in several states who worked as poll workers on Election Day have tested positive for the coronavirus, although it remains unclear whether the infections are tied to the polling places.

The largest outbreak so far has been detected among election workers in the Kansas City suburbs of Jackson County, Mo., according to The Associated Press. Twenty-eight people who worked as poll workers there have tested positive in recent weeks, although Election Board head Tammy Brown said staffers urged anyone who felt sick to stay home.

“We, as election officials, all knew we were at risk,” Brown said, according to the AP. “I don’t think this was shocking to any of us.”

The high rates of infection in Missouri particularly make it hard to definitively say whether the cases are linked to in-person voting. While the county made drive-thru voting an option for anyone who had contact with an infected person, Brown said the board dealt with as many as 600,000 voters, including 200,000 early voters.

An election official working an early voting site in Linn County, Iowa, itself considered a national hotspot, also reported testing positive, according to the AP.

“I’m actually surprised that we don’t have more cases,” said Linn County Election Commissioner Joel Miller told the AP. “It actually seems kind of far-fetched that we didn’t have more, but they might not be reporting it to us.”

In New York’s Hudson Valley, officials have advised more than 1,600 people who voted at a single location on Election Day to seek testing, citing a poll worker who tested positive. They added that the person in question work a mask and maintained social distancing protocols, potentially stemming the risk, according to the AP.

Two poll workers at separate Carroll County, Va., locations also tested positive, although officials said all elections officials statewide wore masks, gloves and face shields.


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