A doctor’s perspective on the Covid risks of waiting in election lines

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AMHERST, NY (WIVB) For the fifth straight day, Wednesday, there were long lines outside of the Amherst Senior Center, one of 37 early voting sites in Erie County.

“I don’t see really that much people six feet apart. It’s obviously a condern still, even going in the polling and stuff,” said Matt Coloprisco, who came 90 minutes before the doors opened just to get a good spot in line or early voting.

But during a pandemic, is it safe to wait in long lines with strangers for hours?

Dr. John Crane, an infectious disease expert with the Jacob’s School of Medicine and the Erie County medical center, says it is less of a risk than a concert or large gathering.

“All the days that we’ve had so far of early voting, just like today right now there’s been a relatively strong breeze so that would tend to blow away a plume for virus that might be coming from someone.” said Dr. Crane. “Most of the people are waiting outdoors and you’re obviously farther apart than if you were sitting together in the bleachers at a Bills game or a concert or something like that.”

Frank Coloprisco questioned the safety of it. “All we’ve been hearing is, ‘you shouldn’t be gathering in crowds’ over and over on the news and here we’re doing it.”

But Dr. Crane says the long lines may be safer than a large Thanksgiving gathering. “I’m urging people not to congregate in groups of more than 10 people. Maybe have a Zoom Thanksgiving.”

World War II Veteran George Derby was willing to take the health risk, and bundle up for hours outside so he can vote. “We all better be careful. I think that’s the way to look at it. If we’re not careful, if we get it, it’s too bad.”

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