Medical Reserve Corps volunteers to help out on Election Day with COVID-19 safety precautions

2020 Election

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health said hundreds of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers will be at the polls to support in-person voting on Tuesday.

The volunteers will be at voting precincts across central Virginia to help local election officials cautiously conduct in-person voting in their communities by promoting COVID-19 precautions.

More than 50 localities across the state asked for the help of volunteers at more than 1,000 precincts. 

Jennifer Freeland, the State Volunteer Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health, said when you arrive at the polls, you can expect to see MRC’s active and working to keep you safe.

“Volunteers will be rotating within a couple of the polling locations,” says Freeland. “Checking in, taking a look around, answering questions — really there to be an adviser and encourager for people to just be COVID safe, let’s be smart to let’s put masks on.”

Face masks will be available at some polling sites on Election Day.

She adds that some of the volunteers have been training for months.

“This isn’t anything new we started supporting the elections in May. So, we did May, June and July which was a wonderful opportunity for us to have a bit of a trial run,” she said.

She said it’s all in an effort to keep you safe and to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“Volunteers will walk through the polling locations and say hey why don’t we move this polling booth over here,” she said. “Let’s maintain 6 feet and have people come in this door and out that door. Yeah, that’s different, but it would be better if we did it that way.”

Freeland affirms MRC’s are also there to help out poll workers. She said with all of the things poll workers need to focus on during Election Day, she’s glad the volunteers can come in and enforce some of the infection prevention strategies.

Freeland said their volunteers are brave, strong and oddly flexible given the current circumstances. She said they are prepared for Election Day.

“Our volunteers have been working really hard for this COVID response since before it was even declared an emergency,” she said.

And according to a press release, it’s important for MRC’s to lend an extra set of eyes and ears for poll workers and voters on Election Day.

Officials ask voters to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing while at the polls.

“We are very proud of Virginia’s residents who have volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic response. These trained and dedicated professionals have helped care for residents of nursing homes, tested people for COVID-19, worked countless hours at call centers and served in many other ways,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We recognize the importance of voting, and the MRC will be there to help protect the health of our residents exercising that important right at polling places.”

People who go to their polling location on Tuesday are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering at all times while voting and to exercise proper social distancing from other voters and poll workers.

They should also avoid physical greetings like handshaking and clean their hands before and after voting.

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