ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — A team of volunteer health professionals has been deployed to polling stations around the state to provide health and safety guidance intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to voters and poll workers.
Around 200 health ambassadors initially volunteered to answer questions about COVID-19 safety precautions, if asked, and hand out face masks and hand sanitizer at polling places, Dr. Cliff Mitchell, director of the Environmental Health Bureau for the Maryland Department of Health, told Capital News Service.
The ambassadors are not there to provide any clinical advice, Mitchell said, but “to try to help people feel comfortable and aware, as they vote, of the things that will keep them, voting officials and others safe.”
The 2020 presidential election is taking place amid record-breaking coronavirus infections across the country. And in the week leading up to the election, Maryland added 5,866 new cases to its count, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard.
Volunteers from the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, in collaboration with the state Board of Elections, will visit polling places where that jurisdiction’s elections board has requested their assistance, according to a press release sent last week by the state health department.
Six jurisdictions were named as having requested ambassadors at their polling places: Montgomery, Prince George's, Harford, Carroll and Worcester counties and Baltimore City.
The Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps is an all-volunteer group of first responders and medical professionals whose deployments are coordinated through the Maryland Department of Health during natural disasters.
Ambassadors were to be at polling places from the beginning of early voting through Election Day.
The health department also published a safety flyer to be displayed in polling places that reminds voters to wear masks, wash hands and keep six feet apart.