October 26, 2020
Media Contact: Christie Wills, Office of Epidemiology, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCAHD),
Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers to Help Local Officials Implement Safe Voting Practices on Election Day
(ROANOKE, Virginia) — Over 100 Roanoke and New River Valley residents have volunteered with the state Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to help provide Election Day support for in-person voting during Virginia’s COVID-19 public health emergency. MRC volunteers are tasked with helping election officials to safely conduct in-person voting.
Mary Lou Legg, Unit Coordinator of the Near Southwest MRC, said that plans for Election Day have been underway since the spring. “The Governor’s Office activated the MRC to assist with this year’s elections starting with spring primary voting, and our training and recruitment has continued through the fall,” said Legg.
Statewide, 52 localities have asked for MRC assistance at 1,030 polling sites on November 3rd. The Medical Reserve Corps expects to provide more than 1000 trained volunteers across the state to assist with the general election. Training has jointly been provided by the VDH and the Virginia Deputy Director of Elections.
In the Roanoke Valley, the approximately 50 MRC volunteers will staff local polling places in three-hour shifts throughout the busiest parts of the day. In the New River Valley, 57 volunteers will assist in four jurisdictions. Their duties will include encouraging the use of masks and hand sanitizer and helping staff and voters maintain at least six feet of physical distance. They are also trained to spot opportunities to reduce transmission of germs, such as by keeping doors propped open to minimize the number of surfaces voters may touch to safely enter and exit the building.
Roanoke resident Tiffany Lee will work at a Northeast Roanoke polling place as a MRC volunteer. Lee, a college professor and Latin teacher, served earlier this year at a primary polling place in Salem. “I understand there is some degree of personal risk involved but the need to have safe elections outweighs my concerns,” said Lee. “We volunteers are provided with personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, but I already have my own. I’m ready to serve.”
Jurisdictions Requesting MRC Assistance/Number of Volunteers
- Roanoke City/27
- Roanoke County/11
- Montgomery County/44
- Giles County/9
- Floyd County/3
- Pulaski County/1
According to the CDC, some tips for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- Make a plan. Start by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections website for more information on options about voting.
- Wear a cloth face covering or mask at all times while voting.
- Exercise proper social distancing by maintaining at least six feet of separation from other voters and poll workers. Consider staying more than six feet away from people who are not wearing cloth face coverings.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Do not use physical greetings, such as handshakes.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after voting. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
- Avoid touching your face and face covering.
CDC’s Voter Information: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/election-polling-locations.html