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Are There Any Health Risks To Voting In Person During A Pandemic?

Aug 4, 2020

EMU epidemiologist Dr. Beverly Mihalko
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

After being advised by doctors and public health officials to stay home for the past several months due to the pandemic, voting day may mean some people will need to go out to cast a ballot or turn in an absentee ballot if they didn't mail it back in time.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Eastern Michigan University professor and epidemiologist Dr. Beverly Mihalko about what risks, if any, there are to our health by doing this.


Dr. Beverly Mihalko says she believes it is low-risk to vote in person, as long as you wear a mask, stay six feet away from others, and use hand sanitizer.  She doesn't recommend bringing little children with you to the polls if you don't have to.  She said she brings her own pen to use while voting as one way to reduce contact and believes, since a record number of absentee ballots were issued, the number of people actually voting in person should also be lower.

When it comes to wearing a mask, she reminds us that disposable masks are meant to be disposed of, not worn over and over again day after day.  She says don't touch the front of your mask, touch it with the side bands, and, if you have a washable mask, make sure you are keeping it clean.  Dr. Mihalko says she now believes there are circumstances where "safe hugging" can take place, as long as both parties are low-risk should they get infected and both sides turn their heads during the hug.

The EMU epidemiologist reminds us that no one, no matter what your age, is immune from COVID-19, adding, "The virus is in control.  We are not."

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu