13 Fulton County election warehouse employees test positive for COVID-19Georgia received a top credit rating to make purchases including new voting equipment File/Credit: Jessica McGowan, Getty Images, via fortune.com
By Raisa Habersham
Some of the employees were tasked with collecting ballots from absentee ballot drop off locations.
Nearly a week into early voting, Fulton County officials announced 13 of the 60 employees in their election warehouse have COVID-19.
“After two initial employees were tested Tuesday, all warehouse staff were tested and an additional 11 cases were identified,” Fulton County elections director Richard Barron said in a prepared statement during a media briefing on Thursday.
Fulton’s election warehouse is home to the county’s election equipment and supplies, Barron said. The equipment is assembled there, and Election Day results are also tabulated at the warehouse, located on English Avenue in northwest Atlanta.
Barron said some systems specialists who are involved with logic and accuracy testing are among the employees that tested positive. Other positive employees were in charge of packing supply boxes and collecting ballots from dropboxes daily.
“None of the individuals that have tested positive have any contact with voters in any of the early voting locations,” Barron said. Of the 13 employees, only one has been symptomatic he said.
Barron added that no COVID-19 cases have been reported among workers at early voting sites. All poll workers are required to wear masks, and hand sanitizer is provided for all election workers and the public.
The warehouse has been sanitized, and the county is looking for alternate workspace so operations can continue with greater social distancing, Barron said.
“I have been meeting with county executive management, and we have been making plans to either move people within the county into some of these positions where we need people to be replaced,” Barron said. “Or we will go with one of our contract vendors to replace those staff that are now out.”
Starting Friday, daily rapid testing will also be implemented for employees.
“We’ll be doing our normal activities of encouraging mass squaring social distancing,” District Health Director of Fulton County Board of Health district health director Lynn Paxton said. “We are investigating all of the cases. And in fact, we are having case investigators go to the houses and we’ll be testing their household contacts as well.”
The county’s elections office is working with the Fulton County Board of Health and Department of Real Estate and Asset Management to implement stronger mitigation efforts and ongoing monitoring.