TAMPA, Fla. — With just eight days to go to Election Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering up tips for voters to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when at the polls.
When you go to cast your ballot, voting may look a little different.
“All of our poll workers are masked. If you go to early vote, you’ll have a plexiglass barrier between the voter and the poll worker. We’ve got the privacy booths socially distanced,” said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.
Election officials across the Tampa Bay area are trying to create a safe voting environment during this pandemic. The CDC has steps for voters to help minimize their risk both before they head to the polls and the day they vote.
Ahead of voting, the CDC says the more prepared you are, the less time you may have to spend at a voting site. The agency suggests checking that you’re registered and considering early voting. It recommends trying to vote when it’s not busy if you’re at higher risk for getting very sick as well as noting that taking kids with you to vote can increase their risk of getting COVID-19.
When you go to the polls, the CDC suggests bringing your own supplies, like a mask and hand sanitizer. It says to wear a mask and stay at least six feet from other people.
“You don’t know who’s infected,” said USF Health’s Dr. Charles Lockwood. “Most infections occur from asymptomatic patients, so you don’t know that the person in front of you who’s not wearing a mask who doesn’t seem to have any symptoms isn’t infected and might infect you.”
The CDC also recommends people who are sick follow its advice for when to be around others, protect yourself when using transportation, and either wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you go in and after you leave a polling place.
“We’ve got markings on the ground at a lot of the sites encouraging if there’s a line, they can stand six feet apart,” said Latimer. “We’re not putting a lot of people in the polling site at the same time.”
In Hillsborough County, voters take the pen they use to vote home with them and workers wipe down areas often. The CDC also notes the more prepared you are when you go to vote, the more you reduce your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
“Don’t be afraid to vote,” said Dr. Lockwood. “Vote, but be very careful and do the things we have been recommending from the start: social distancing, wearing a mask, using good hand hygiene.”