Disease & Illness

How To Stay Safe From Coronavirus At The Polls

Don't let COVID-19 keep you from voting!

With less than two weeks until Election Day, millions of people are getting ready to cast their ballot at polling places across the United States. This year’s election may feel particularly stressful, not only because it’s a high-stakes presidential election, but because we’re still in the grips of a pandemic.

The good news is that safe practices have been in place for a while now, aimed at keeping people safe as they do everything from shopping and attending school to eating out and traveling. With so many people about to go to the polls, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines all the way back in June to help protect voters from COVID-19.

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Many of the CDC’s guidelines are centered on poll workers and the set up of polling places. Poll workers should be educated about self-monitoring COVID-19 symptoms and are encouraged to stay home if they’ve been directly exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus.

As for the poll locations, they should be stocked up on hand sanitizer in high-interaction areas, such as check-in, the actual voting booths and near the exits. And, finally, poll workers should also be wearing masks, practicing social distancing and regularly washing their hands throughout their shift.

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But, what can you do to stay safer when going out to vote? There are some steps everyone can take to help minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Vote Early

One great option for keeping your exposure level lower as you cast your ballot is to vote early, if possible. You can go to USA.gov to find out where you are supposed to vote and when the polls are open before and on Election Day. By voting early, you could avoid the longer lines that will likely be seen on election day.

Wear A Mask And Keep Your Distance

If you are in a long line at your polling place, make sure to wear a mask, and stay socially distant. Even early voters are experiencing long waits in some states, such as Georgia. Don’t get complacent during your wait. Keep the mask on and stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not in your party, even if they are also wearing a mask.

Carry Hand Sanitizer

It’s getting easier to find hand sanitizer in the stores, so pick up some extra before Election Day and bring a bottle with you. Make sure it has at least 60% alcohol content to be effective. If no hand sanitizer is available at the polling place, make sure to use it after contact with other people, pens and any other common items and areas.

These simple steps can help keep you healthy and give you a little more peace of mind while you go out on Election Day and cast your ballot.

This story originally appeared on Simplemost.