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How to Vote if You Have (or Think You Have) COVID-19

Voting is your right—even if you are infected with coronavirus.

Election Day is finally here…and you are sick. What should you do: stay home and quarantine, or head to your polling place and cast a vote? On Sunday, the CDC issued guidance about how to vote safely on November 3 — including what you should do if you have COVID-19 or show any symptoms of it. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Here's How to Vote if You Have (or Think You Have) COVID-19

"There are steps you can take to help you vote and minimize your risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The more prepared you are, the less time you may have to spend at the voting site," they write 

According to the CDC, people who are COVID-19 positive are just as welcome to vote as anyone else. "Voters have the right to vote, regardless of whether they are sick or in quarantine," they continued. 

If you are sick, they do urge you to be extra cautious in order to avoid infecting others. "Voters who are sick or in quarantine should take steps to protect poll workers and other voters. This includes wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before and after voting."

They also recommend revealing your condition prior to entering. "You should also let poll workers know that you are sick or in quarantine when you arrive at the polling location. Check with local authorities for any additional guidance," they say. 

Per another CDC page, some states will even offer a "designated polling site or curbside voting for sick voters."

"Post signs to discourage anyone with symptoms from entering the polling location buildings and provide voting options for those with symptoms. Ensure that any signage is accessible to voters with disabilities, for example by providing large print or braille versions or having audible messages with the same information," they add. 

However, not all health experts are on board with infected voters heading to the polls. 

"I would not recommend that any symptomatic/infectious patients go to the polls," Dr. Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and expert in pandemic preparedness tells Eat This, Not That! Health. "People who are within 10 days of symptoms or recently febrile, should be considered infectious and need to isolate."

"Going to the polls would defeat the purpose of isolation and quarantine measures. With a busy Election Day, an infectious person could expose many other individuals in their community to the virus. If they insisted on going to the polls, outdoor voting or curbside would be the safer route. However, given the extremely infectious and deadly nature of the virus I must recommend against voting in person if you are infectious," he added. 

RELATED: These Swing States are Overrun by COVID

How to Protect Yourself and Others

The CDC also offered other suggestions to protect yourself while casting your ballot. For example, they recommend bringing your own supplies — including your own black ink pen, mask, hand sanitizer, tissues, and of course, your identification. And, while at the polling place, make sure to keep your mask on and maintain a six-foot distance from others. 

Additionally, "take care when touching surfaces and wash your hands often or, if not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol."

Also, don't be surprised if you see poll workers wearing personal protective equipment — including respiratory protection, face shields, gowns, and gloves.

"When possible, alternative voting options—which minimize contact between voters and poll workers—should be made available for people with Covid-19, those who have symptoms of Covid-19, and those who have been exposed," a CDC spokesperson told CNN. So use precautions, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah