KCMO health department institutes COVID-19 precautions for polls

KCMO safety precautions.jpg
Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 20:01:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the 2020 general election taking place during a pandemic – and the potential for a record turnout – the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department has been working with local election officials to keep voters safe.

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, said his team met with local election boards, recommending that election workers wear masks, as well as face shields.

"The virus can get into the eyes and you can become infected," Archer said.

The health department also is working with election boards to ensure they have masks available for anyone who forgets one.

Kansas City Election Director Shawn Kieffer said when it comes to polling locations, they began looking at larger sites like gymnasiums, community centers and large meeting spaces.

"That was our main focus," he said.

Election Day is trained, to clean the machines "with the various wipes and sprays," according to Kieffer.

"The wand is something new that we've added right now," Kieffer said.

However, Kieffer said it's important to note that next month's election won't be the first during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've had two prior elections under the COVID virus," he said. "We've had roughly 100,000 people come out and vote and there's been no reports of any COVID being transferred at any of our polling places."

Dr. Archer shared the following tips to stay safe while voting:
1. Make sure face masks cover the nose and mouth.
2. Avoid talking to strangers in line on Election Day.
3. Be prepared to wait a while. Consider taking a chair or book and a backup phone battery.

The health department also is setting up screenings for those people who would like to be tested for the virus the week following the election, according to Archer.

When asked if it's safe to vote this November, Archer said, "If you don't vote, your voice isn't heard and that's not safe."

41 Action News is committed to providing comprehensive information on the 2020 primary and general elections with an emphasis on several key issues — the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. Count on us to provide news and information to help you make an informed choice at the polls.