CDC report: Data from Wisconsin’s April election shows guidelines lower COVID-19 risk during elections

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MADISON, Wis. — A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday found there was no clear increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations or deaths following Wisconsin’s April 7 election.

The CDC report noted that Wisconsin was the first state to hold an election with in-person voting after stay-at-home orders were issued to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The April election took place less than two weeks after the state’s initial Safer at Home order became effective on March 25. (An extension of the order in Wisconsin was eventually struck down by the state’s Supreme Court on May 13.)

Looking at the two weeks after the election, during the incubation period when COVID-19 symptoms can develop, the CDC said there were 572 new cases reported in Milwaukee. (In the 13 days preceding the election — March 27 to April 8 — there were 693 cases reported in Milwaukee, the report said.)

Of the 572 new cases, 6.5 percent of patients — 37 people — said they voted, with more than half of them using mail-in absentee ballots or curbside voting. Thirty-eight percent of the 572 patients said they didn’t vote, and 55 percent didn’t say if they voted or not.

The CDC said the data shows the agency’s guidelines are working to lower the risk of people with COVID-19 spreading it during elections.

“These data provide preliminary evidence that CDC’s interim guidance for ensuring various voting options, encouraging physical distancing, personal prevention practices, and employing environmental cleaning and disinfection lower COVID-19 transmission risk during elections,” the report said.

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