2 Florida poll workers test positive for coronavirus, elections office urges in-person voters to ‘seek medical advice’

FILE PHOTO: A voter hands his ID to a poll worker before casting his ballot during the Democratic presidential primary election at a polling center in Miami, Florida. / Free

Local officials in Florida have advised some residents who cast ballots in the state’s primary to see their doctors after two poll workers tested positive for Covid-19, despite authorities insisting there was no risk to voters.

The two election staffers manned separate polling stations in Broward County – Florida’s second largest, with some 2 million residents – and were confirmed to carry the illness on Thursday, according to local authorities.

“County staff as well as other poll workers at those locations have been notified of the situation and have been advised to take appropriate steps,” Broward County’s supervisor of elections said in a statement, disclosing that the two staffers, who were not named, worked at precincts in the city of Hollywood.

Voters who voted in person on March 17th at either of those locations or who voted early at the Weston early voting location may wish to … seek medical advice.

The announcement comes after widespread fears of the growing viral outbreak prompted Ohio to postpone its primary vote – also set for March 17 – even as Florida, Arizona and Illinois proceeded with their own. The states went ahead despite warnings that crowded polling centers could become new vectors for the illness, as well as federal health guidelines calling for social distancing. Assuring that voters were safe to cast their ballots ahead of the primary, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters: “They voted during the Civil War. We’re going to vote.”

The news has stoked concern that the other recent primary states could soon discover that the virus was transmitted at polling places, some calling on Democratic National Committee (DNC) head Tom Perez to take action to delay upcoming contests.

At least 10 states and territories in addition to Ohio have already done so, pushing back primary dates or, as Alaska has done, foregoing in-person voting altogether. As the coronavirus outbreak accelerates in what is now the world’s largest epicenter – infecting some 85,000 and killing nearly 1,300 in the US – other upcoming elections could also see delays.

With more than 2,300 cases of Covid-19 in Florida, Broward has become the state’s second hardest-hit county, behind only Miami-Dade. After tallying more than 500 infections, county officials on Thursday issued a shelter-in-place order in hopes of stemming the spread of the disease, joining scores of other states and localities that have imposed similar lockdown measures.

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