[Image via southernmarylandchronicle]

Maryland’s Department of Health is doing what it can to keep voters safe at the polls by dispatching “Health Ambassadors” to assist with precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Southern Maryland Chronicle has more:

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) announced today that the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, in cooperation with the State Board of Elections (SBE), will be assigning volunteer Health Ambassadors to polling places in multiple jurisdictions throughout the state to help keep voters and poll workers protected from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. 

Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps is a statewide network of medical and public health professionals, health care students, and other volunteers that is overseen by the MDH Office of Preparedness and Response. Their mission is to support public health initiatives and response capabilities in Maryland by volunteering their skills, expertise, and time to assist the state and their communities in a crisis.

“With early voting beginning today and Election Day fast approaching on November 3, many voters are still expressing doubts about the safety of voting in person during this pandemic,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Having volunteer Health Ambassadors onsite at the polls will help ensure that everyone is doing their part to keep Marylanders safe and healthy.”   

From October 26 through Election Day, Health Ambassadors will be assigned to polling places in jurisdictions that have requested assistance from the Board of Elections, including Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Harford County, Carroll County, and Worcester County.

Health Ambassadors will:

  • Reinforce public guidance for maintaining social distance and wearing face coverings
  • Distribute masks to people who need one
  • Administer hand sanitizer and disinfect high-touch areas

“We are honored to assist the State Board of Elections in providing Health Ambassadors who can help keep voters, poll workers and anyone else on-site at Maryland polling places protected from COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, while our residents exercise their right to vote,” said Jonathan Caudle, Maryland Responds State Coordinator.

Health Ambassadors complete required training to become a Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer. They also receive additional training to assist at polling sites.

To become a Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps volunteer or Health Ambassador, visithttps://mdr.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Home.aspx.

To download signage about COVID-19 safety at polling locations, visit https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Download-.aspx.

Given all the concerns expressed about the risks of voting in person during the coronavirus outbreak, this is a fantastic idea – especially since it allows poll workers to focus on election duties without the need to multi-task to protect public health as well. Kudos to Maryland and DOH for this initiative; I’ll be curious to see if there are any similar programs in place elsewhere around the country. Stay healthy and stay tuned …