Important Salon article, glad to see one of my co-authors quoted:
“I do think it’s safe to vote in person,” Dean Blumberg, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California–Davis, told Salon. “I think for most voting situations, the interactions that you’re going to have with people where you’re not gonna be socially distanced will be brief, and then wearing a mask when you are close to other people provides an extra layer of protection for when you have to be close to other people.”
The greatest risk, de St. Maurice said, is not when you’re actually voting in the polling place, but when you’re waiting in line.
“If that line is indoors, that’s probably the scenario where people might be closer together, and waiting in line for a long amount of time,” she said. “But I think if people can maintain a physical distance, if everyone is wearing a mask, and if ventilation is increased, meaning that people are maybe outdoors or there’s adequate ventilation in the polling place, those risks are really reduced.”
Blumberg said for situations where you have to break social distancing, like when you’re grabbing a ballot from the poll worker, that exchange will be so brief that the risk is low of getting infected even if one of you is asymptomatic—assuming you’re both wearing masks.
Exposure to the coronavirus isn’t a black-and-white situation, scientists say. Specifically, being exposed to the coronavirus is not the sole risk, but rather how much of the virus one encounters. Those who inhale more viral particles, either because they’re not masked or are in the presence of an infected person longer, are at higher risk.
Another simulation showed that when at a minimum 80 percent of a population is masked, the risk of transmission is greatly reduced.