United States News Colorado Coronavirus surges in key battleground states as election nears

Coronavirus surges in key battleground states as election nears

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MADISON, Wis. — Rising coronavirus cases in key presidential battleground states a little more than two weeks before Election Day are the latest worry for election officials and voters fearing chaos or exposure to the virus at polling places despite months of planning.

The prospect of poll workers backing out at the last minute because they are infected, quarantined or scared of getting sick has local election officials in Midwest states such as Iowa and Wisconsin opening more early voting locations, recruiting backup workers and encouraging voters to plan for long lines and other inconveniences.

Confirmed virus cases and deaths are on the rise in the swing states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin broke records this week for new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations, leading to the opening of a field hospital to handle COVID-19 patients. Gov. Tony Evers said he plans to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to fill any staffing shortages at election sites.

While holding a competitive presidential election during a pandemic is “tricky business,” the governor said, “People are ready to have this election over, and I think it will be a successful election with very few hiccups.”

In Iowa, Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz opened additional early voting sites in and around Davenport, the state’s third-largest city, to try to reduce the number of people casting ballots on Election Day and to keep the virus from spreading in large precincts.

“We have to remember that there is this thing called COVID,” Moritz said. “Our numbers aren’t getting any better. The more people I can get to early vote, the better.”

The pandemic’s recent trajectory close to home has some voters reconsidering a lifetime habit of entering a voting booth on Election Day.

Tim Tompkins, a welding engineer in Iowa, took the day off work to cast an early ballot at the Bettendorf Community Center. Tompkins, 62, said he and his wife, Pat, were afraid of coronavirus exposure in Election Day crowds but determined to vote, so they brought their own sanitizer to the community center Friday.

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“We’d go through a vat of boiling COVID to get the current president out of office,” Tompkins said.

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