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Fulton elections warehouse COVID-19 outbreak grows

By Ben Brasch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News And Talk #atlanta-ga

Fulton County officials announced Wednesday that the COVID-19 outbreak at its elections warehouse has grown since the start of early voting.

Just two weeks from Election Day, there are now 23 warehouse workers confirmed to have the coronavirus, Fulton Chief Operating Officer Anna Roach said during a Board of Commissioners meeting. That’s one in every three of the 60 warehouse workers.

The county stores and programs all elections equipment, from paper back-ups to the electronic machines, at the English Street site. The warehouse is also where votes are tabulated.

Officials held a press conference last week to say that 13 workers had tested positive and that the county was instituting daily testing.

Fulton elections head Richard Barron told commissioners Monday that he is bringing on more staff to make up for those who are now in quarantine.

Fulton Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whitmore said the county was taking $300,000 from its reserve balance in case of another COVID-19 wave. The money would cover unexpected outbreak expenses, she said, and comes from the sought-after Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding Fulton received from the federal government in April.

Of the 23 workers currently with the virus, five are full-time county employees and 18 are contractors.

Roach said the county knows these contractors well because they have worked multiple elections.

“They are as much our employees as the ones who work for us,” she said.

Barron said that staff have sprayed the warehouse with a 30-day germicidal, moved over the weekend into a 110,000-square-foot area at the Georgia World Congress Center to increase social distancing and added security at the warehouse so they can open up bay doors to increase air flow.

He assured commissioners that they had the situation under control.

“We are well-positioned going forward,” Barron said.