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Dr. Fauci explains how voting should be handled during the coronavirus pandemic

Published Aug 17th, 2020 10:52AM EDT
Coronavirus Voting
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  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained how voting could be done safely during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • Fauci said that the same rules that apply for grocery shopping could be used for voting in person this year. The health expert also noted that mail-in voting is a good option for at-risk people.
  • “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise,” Fauci concluded.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is hardly contained in the US, as the infection rate and death toll both continue to climb. Tens of thousands of people still get diagnosed every day, and thousands of others probably get infected without getting tested. The outbreaks pose severe problems to everyday life, including the opening of schools, which is further fueling local outbreaks. As the fall arrives, the country will have to deal with two additional issues, though one of them isn’t specific to the US. The incoming flu season will soon hit the entire northern hemisphere, and flu and COVID-19 outbreaks will coexist in some communities. The COVID-flu season will be worse in many countries and US states where there’s still plenty of community transmission of the virus, that’s why it’s critical for the coronavirus infection rate to go down significantly. The other matter the US is facing is a very specific one. The US presidential election is just a few months away, and voting might be problematic in states where the outbreak isn’t contained. Unsurprisingly, voting during the pandemic has become a highly politicized topic in the past few months, but Dr. Anthony Fauci knows how it can be done safely.

Hosting huge crowds of people indoors seems to go against all the safety guidelines that authorities have been trying to implement. But that’s what in-person voting could look like, which may fuel more COVID-19 outbreaks in areas where community transmission is still high. Mail-in ballots could be a good alternative, regardless of whether or not a state has a high number of cases. People who are most at risk for developing COVID-19 complications that can lead to death could vote via mail to prevent exposure to other people in early November. But President Trump, who keeps backing hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure and saying the virus will just disappear by itself, thinks that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud come election day. There’s no actual evidence to support those claims, but Trump keeps peddling the misleading mail-in voting fraud claim and taking preemptive actions against it.

Dr. Fauci addressed voting in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News’s Deborah Roberts for National Geographic. Fauci likened the in-person voting process to going to the grocery store and said there are ways to do it safely. He also explained that mail-in voting is still an option, “so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise.”

“I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” the nation’s top authority on infectious diseases said. “For example, when you look at going to a grocery store now in many regions and counties and cities that are doing it correctly, they have “X” s every six or more feet. And it says, ‘Don’t leave this spot until the person in front of you left their spot.’ And you can do that, if you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.”

He addressed at-risk people, saying that “obviously, if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance. There’s the situation of mail-in voting that has been done for years in many places.”

Fauci also spoke about the reopening of schools, stressing that one approach might not apply to all regions due to the nature of each state’s COVID-19 outbreak. “So again, big country, it’s not going to be unidimensional. It’s not going to be one size fits all, but we’ve gotta be sensitive to the safety and the welfare of the children and the teachers,” he said. The same sort of thinking could be applied to voting, whether it’s for the incoming presidential election or other elections over the course of the next year.

President Trump was quick to quote Fauci’s voting remarks on Twitter, but he only used a partial quote that served his purposes. Needless to say, he left out Fauci’s thoughts on mail-in voting despite the fact that Trump himself will be voting by mail in the upcoming election.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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