* Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) just told me that four nursing homes in her 49th Ward (where she is the Democratic committeeperson) have backed out of serving as polling places for next month’s primary over concerns about COVID-19. The Chicago Elections Board called her today to ask her for alternative site suggestions, Cassidy said.
This reluctance could easily spread to other sorts of facilities, including senior centers and schools. Hold on to your hats.
I’ve asked the Chicago Elections Board for comment. I’ll let you know.
*** UPDATE *** Chicago Elections Board…
In response to calls the Chicago Election Board has received from nursing homes, the Board will not be using any nursing homes that were previously designated to serve as Election Day polling places.
We are preparing mailings and emails to voters in the affected precincts to encourage use of Early Voting and Vote By Mail.
Replacement Election Day polling places for the affected precincts are not yet determined. We will be providing more information in the coming week.
*** UPDATE 4 *** Jim Allen at the Chicago Elections Board…
There are no other categories of polling places that are affected.
Allen also told me the board met with the CPS CEO yesterday and two officials from Chicago Archdiocese, as well as the Park District and the Chicago Public Library.
“Right now, our biggest fear is fear itself,” Allen said.
*** UPDATE 5 *** Jim Allen at the Chicago Elections Board…
Am writing to update the information provided late Friday.
The Chicago Election Board has modified the pre-Election Day nursing-home voting program, so that is entirely Vote By Mail.
We will not necessarily be changing all Election Day precincts that are in building complexes that include nursing-home components. There are locations with nursing home components in one building, but senior living in other areas, where the residents may want to continue to vote in a polling place in that building instead of going elsewhere to vote. Thus, Election Day precinct polling places are being evaluated individually and changed as needed.
Chicago voters may check their polling place information at chicagoelections.gov/info
Nursing homes are a perfect-storm environment for the coronavirus, pairing residents at greater risk of serious illness with facilities that may be ill-equipped to prevent the spread of infection within their walls and beyond.
Seventy-five percent of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the last three years — a higher proportion than previously known, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal inspection data. Those citations have been as mild as a paperwork problem, and as serious as a nursing home not telling state officials about an outbreak as unmonitored workers spread disease to patients.
* Let’s move on to the Atlantic…
Oregon, situated between the California and Washington hot spots, can test only about 40 people a day. Texas has 16 positive cases, according to media reports, but the health department’s website still lists only three cases. The Texas Tribune has reported that the state can test approximately 30 people a day.
Other states can test even fewer. Hawaii can test fewer than 20 people a day, though it could double that number in an emergency, an official told us. Iowa has supplies to test about 500 patients a day. Arkansas, though not near a current known outbreak, is able to test only four or five patients a day.
On the East Coast, testing capacity varies significantly. New York State has 22 positive cases, including several cases of community transmission in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It can test 100 to 200 people a day. Neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut have not shared any information about how many tests they have run, or about their daily testing capacity.
Pennsylvania can test only about a dozen people a day, and Delaware can test about 50 people, our survey found. An official in Massachusetts, where two of 20 tests have come back positive, said that she did not know the Bay State’s daily capacity, but that its health department “currently [has] an adequate supply of test kits.”
I’ve asked the governor’s office how many people can be tested every day in Illinois and am still waiting for a response. I will update if they get back to me.
*** UPDATE *** Uh-oh…
*** UPDATE *** Stay tuned…
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