Today is Super Tuesday, the busiest day of the presidential primary season when voters in 14 states take to the polls to cast their choice for the Democratic presidential nominee. This year, however, voters won’t just be going to the polls with politics on their minds but lingering concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus as it continues its spread across America.
The Centers for Disease Control is also worried about that spread, particularly today, when so many will congregate in polling stations across the country. That’s why the organization has released a set of “recommended precautions” for preventing the spread of the disease in polling stations.
For polling workers and locations, the CDC is recommending:
- That workers stay home if they are feeling sick or have any flu-like symptoms.
- Workers should use disinfectants on surfaces in polling stations that might be contaminated with germs, including objects like doorknobs, desks, tables, and light switches. You can find a list of pre-approved products that the EPA says can be used “against emerging enveloped viral pathogens,” including the COVID-19 coronavirus, here.
- Workers should also use the above disinfectants on voting machines, after contacting the voting machine’s manufacturer to see if it’s safe to do so. The CDC says if no cleaning guidelines are available, workers should use alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol on voting machines—including on their touchscreen—in lieu of the above disinfectants.
- Additionally, workers should frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at a time, or use “an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol” if soap and water aren’t available.
For voters attending polling stations, the CDC is recommending:
- If the polling station has a bathroom, wash your hands with soap and water in the sink. It’s a good idea to do this before and after using the voting machines.
- If no bathrooms or soap and water are available, make use of any alcohol-based hand sanitizers the polling station offers.
The CDC says the above precautions are recommended because evidence suggests COVID-19 may remain transmittable “for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.” The cleaning of these surfaces and the washing of hands at polling stations are the best ways to protect against this transmission.