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Barb City Manor to remain polling site for Tuesday's election despite COVID-19 scare for seniors

DeKALB – DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Douglas Johnson is not planning to move one of the the county’s 42 polling sites, Barb City Manor, to another location, despite Barb City Manor’s visitor restrictions due to concerns about COVID-19 among the elderly.

Johnson said Friday that nobody has told him he can’t use the retirement home as a polling place.

“I have been in contact with the city and Barb City Manor,” Johnson said. “They understand my position. That’s the position I’m holding.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases Friday, raising the total to 46 statewide. DeKalb County schools, events, organizations and government agencies inundated the news cycle Thursday and Friday with closures, cancellations and postponements, in an effort to deter in-person contact. Area senior facilities have barred visitors from coming for fear the COVID-19 would severely impact its aging population.

Johnson said he doesn’t want to move voters from Barb City Manor to another location, such as Taylor Street Plaza.

“If I do, then I’m going to have to tell the people who go there as a polling place, including the residents, they’ll have to go to a different polling place,” Johnson said. “It might be 2 to 3 miles away.”

Johnson said if he moved voters away from Barb City Manor, then he’d also have to combine them with other voters at another location.

“I would be jamming that many more people into that polling place,” he said.

Johnson said there are more than 1,500 people registered to vote at Barb City Manor and more than 1,500 people registered to vote at Taylor Street Plaza.

“Taking my 99-year-old mother-in-law out of Barb City Manor to take her down to one of those facilities where I’ve crammed these other people doesn’t seem like a smart decision,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the polling place at Barb City Manor is not located where manor residents are, and said the county put measures in place to ensure good hygiene and sanitation inside the polling place.

He also cited the professionalism of the health care workers at Barb City Manor.

“They know how to deal with this,” Johnson said.

There’s also the convenience factor, he said.

“We’ve been working many years to make it a convenient system so we don’t disenfranchise voters,” he said. “This would be the opposite.”

Johnson said while he and his staff are “very concerned,” about the health of people, they’re taking the recommendation of the DeKalb County Health Department.

He said he’s also talked to city staff, the state board of elections and the DeKalb County State’s Attorney.

“We’re looking at health professionals, legal professionals and the election professionals on how best to handle this situation,” Johnson said.”Because of all that advice, this is the decision we’ve made and we’re confident it’s the best decision.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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