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Poll Workers Should Get Tested For Coronavirus, Public Health Boss Says As Illinois Reports Widespread Outbreak

With Chicago's positivity rate now at 10 percent and the state up to 8 percent, Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the virus is showing no signs of slowing in Illinois.

Club Lucky in Bucktown served as a 32nd Ward polling precinct Tuesday.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — As coronavirus cases increase “exponentially” in Illinois, those who volunteered to work at polling places Tuesday are being encouraged to get tested for the virus in the weeks ahead.

With Chicago’s positivity rate now at 10 percent and the state up to 8 percent, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the virus is widespread and showing no signs of slowing in Illinois. Hospitalizations and deaths are also up.

To get the spread under control, Ezike suggested more people get tested regularly — even if they don’t have symptoms — since many people spread the virus unknowingly because they’re asymptomatic.

If you were in a high-risk setting — like poll workers were Tuesday— you should be tested, though it could be up to 14 days after potential exposure before you will test positive, Ezike said. She encouraged poll workers to be diligent in the weeks ahead about masks, social distancing and limiting interactions with others.

“This amount of disease in our community, it’s hard to think you could go anywhere and not be exposed,” Ezike said.

The ChicagoBoard of Elections was able to wrangle together a full team of 13,500 volunteers for the polls in Chicago alone this year — including backup judges — compared to just 10,500 for the March primary.

Election officials said volunteers this year tended to skew younger, with the biggest group being people ages 18-24. Officials had encouraged young people to sign up as election judges since COVID-19 is more likely to have severe complications for on older people, who have previously been more likely to volunteer as election judges.

To find a testing location near you, click here or here.

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