“I think for most voting situations, the interactions that you’re going to have with people where you’re not gonna be socially distanced will be brief, and then wearing a mask when you are close to other people provides an extra layer of protection for when you have to be close to other people.
“This includes, but is not limited to, providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol at each step in the voting process, encouraging poll workers to wash their hands frequently, recommending and reinforcing face masks for both poll workers and voters, social distancing, and to have clearly mark points of entry and exit “to avoid bottlenecks.”
“I think that with their recommendations around cleaning, disinfection, mask wearing and physical distancing, there are really reduced risks to people who are voting in person,” Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice, an infection-prevention specialist at the University of California-Los Angeles, told Salon.
“But I think if people can maintain a physical distance, if everyone is wearing a mask, and if ventilation is increased, meaning that people are maybe outdoors or there’s adequate ventilation in the polling place, those risks are really reduced.”
Blumberg said for situations where you have to break social distancing, like when you’re grabbing a ballot from the poll worker, that exchange will be so brief that the risk is low of getting infected even if one of you is asymptomatic—assuming you’re both wearing masks.
Yet Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association and former Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Salon by email that people do need to be cautious about touching voting machines.
“I suspect that each voting jurisdiction will have mitigation programs in place: social distancing, masks, gloves, frequent machine cleaning,” Medford explained.
At the same time, as Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California — San Francisco, wrote to Salon, “the surface issue is essentially going away ,as we realized that the main route of spread is asymptomatic transmission – people are not worried about surfaces/fomites anymore.”
“The issue of touching stuff and potentially getting infected by touching an infected surface then touching your eyes, your nose, your mouth, that’s a theoretical risk, but we know that the vast majority of transmission is via the respiratory route,” Blumberg told Salon.
“And that’s why social distancing and masking are the primary things that people can do to prevent themselves from getting infected; there’s very little if any transmission from contacting surfaces.”
There have been several studies that show wearing masks can reduce the risk of transmission, even when someone in a group of people is infected.
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