COVID alert sent out from St. Charles polling place after poll worker dies

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A COVID-19 alert is out from an election day polling place in St. Charles after a long-time poll worker was positive for the virus and died, authorities said. 

An elections official confirmed this poll worker put in about a 15 hour day at the Memorial Hall polling place in Blanchette Park, Tuesday.

1,858 voters cast ballots there Tuesday, according to county officials. There were 10 men and women working the polls; the woman who was positive for COVID-19 was a long-time supervisor and had worked elections there for years. She did not typically have direct contact with voters like checking them in or handing out ballots, according to a news release from St. Charles County. She received a positive test result five days before Election Day, didn’t tell anyone or notify the election authority, and came to work the polls anyway. Authorities did not learn of her positive test until after she died.

The worker’s sister called the election authority Wednesday with news of the worker’s death but not the COVID-19 infection, said St. Charles County Election Authority Director, Kurt Bahr.  

Given the prevalence of the virus among us, voters at any polling place should assume they may have come into contact with someone who’s infected, so voters at the Memorial Hall polling place were not being contacted, said St. Charles County Director of Public Health Demetrius Cianci-Chapman.

The other 9 poll workers were contacted, interviewed, told to get tested, and advised to quarantine, he said.  There was no word on the woman’s cause of death.  Authorities did not release her name.  The St. Charles County Department of Public Health would be notified her death was Covid-19 related, Cianci-Chapman said.  That had not happened as of early Thursday evening.

Here’s the news release from St. Charles County:  

The St. Charles County Department of Public Health and the St. Charles County Election Authority have learned that an election judge supervisor had received a positive test result for COVID-19 on Oct. 30 from a private lab and was advised by the lab to quarantine for 14 days. The election judge nevertheless failed to follow the advice and worked at the County’s Precinct 41 at the Blanchette Park Memorial Hall polling site in St. Charles on Election Day. Authorities have informed the County that this individual has died, although a cause of death has not been given at this time. 

Department of Public Health epidemiologists have contacted election workers who were at the site and are working with family members to determine the worker’s whereabouts prior to the positive test results. Contacts may include some or all the other nine election workers at the polling place, who they are advising to test for the virus. It is not anticipated that close contacts will include any of the 1,858 voters who were at the polling place Tuesday, as the worker was a supervisor with job duties that do not typically include working closely with voters, handling iPads, distributing styluses, or taking voter identification. 

St. Charles County Director of Elections Kurt Bahr said all election workers were mandated to wear masks or face shields at all times, and Plexiglas barriers separated the workers from the voters. Sanitation procedures were practiced throughout the day. Those who were at the precinct should watch closely for symptoms and contact the County’s COVID Hotline at 636-949-1899 with questions. 

“As this virus continues to spread, all aspects of the healthcare system are working together to remind the community that a positive COVID-19 test result requires that person to be responsible to others in the community,” says St. Charles County Director of Public Health Demetrius Cianci-Chapman. “There is no more important duty than protecting the health of our families, friends and those who reside in the community with us.” 

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