FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 29, 2020
Media Contact: Larry Hill, Larry.Hill@vdh.virginia.gov
VDH Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers to Help Local Officials Encourage Safe Voting Practices on Election Day
(RICHMOND, VA) – Hundreds of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers throughout the Commonwealth have volunteered with the state to help provide Election Day support for in-person voting during Virginia’s COVID-19 public health emergency. MRC volunteers will help local election officials safely conduct in-person voting in their communities by encouraging appropriate COVID-19 precautions.
“We are very proud of Virginia’s residents who have volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic response. These trained and dedicated professionals have helped care for residents of nursing homes, tested people for COVID-19, worked countless hours at call centers and served in many other ways,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We recognize the importance of voting, and the MRC will be there to help protect the health of our residents exercising that important right at polling places.”
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) State Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Freeland and MRC staff have been making plans for Election Day efforts since the spring. “The Governor’s Office activated the Virginia MRC to ensure that voters could vote safely during the elections in May. Since then, MRC volunteers have eagerly stepped up to serve for early and in-person voting. Our teams are prepared and ready to make the November Election Infection Prevention deployment a safe experience for voters and poll workers,” said Freeland.
Statewide, 50 localities have asked for MRC assistance at more than 1,000 polling locations for Election Day, November 3. The Medical Reserve Corps expects to provide nearly 900 trained volunteers across the state to assist with the general election. Training has jointly been provided by the Virginia Department of Elections and VDH.
MRC volunteers will staff local polling places to encourage voters to use masks and hand sanitizer and to help staff and voters remember to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. They are also trained to spot opportunities to reduce transmission of germs, such as keeping doors propped open where possible to minimize the number of surfaces voters may touch, increase area ventilation and to safely enter and exit the building. Tips for Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- Make a plan. Visit the Virginia Department of Elections website for more information on options for voting in Virginia.
- Wear a cloth face covering/mask, if you are able, at all times while voting.
- Exercise proper social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet of separation from other voters and poll workers. Consider staying more than 6 feet away from people who are not wearing cloth face coverings.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Do not use physical greetings, such as handshaking.
- 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.
For more information, see the Vote Safely section of this web page.
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The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency. If you would like to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps in your community, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/mrc/.