Summit County Clerk's Office Under Quarantine Because They Are Not Considered Essential Workers
Due to a COVID-19 exposure, the Summit County Clerk’s office remains under quarantine through Friday and will not be counting ballots.
When news hit about the Summit County Clerk’s office being shut down in the midst of an election – county residents began asking – why? Many essential workers throughout the pandemic have continued to do their jobs –including health care workers– grocery store employees, and teachers.
Summit County Manager Tom Fisher agreed that the clerk’s office staff is essential but it’s important that they follow the same standards as every other county employee.
“The same protocols that we follow for any employee or any exposure, contact, or case are the same for any employee essential or not. Essential doesn’t mean you come to work sick. Essential just means that - especially back when we were under at stay at home orders - that some functions had to continue.”
When the pandemic first started in March, the essential county employees were identified quickly – those in the sheriff’s office and jail as well as snowplow drivers and other public work staff members. Until this week – those in the clerk’s office may not have been considered essential. But Fisher stressed their work is being done - all that’s changed is when it will be completed.
“In this case – conducting the election is essential and nothing else has changed besides how we’re counting. Ballots are still being collected at all of the ballot boxes. The are being gathered and secured at courthouse each day. And the only thing that has not changed is we are not able to count. And we’re waiting to see what happens with the exposure we’ve had, to see what the next step is.”
CDC guidelines for essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID 19 say that essential workers can continue to work but should take their temperature before starting a shift, wear a face mask at all times, practice social distancing, and leave work if they feel sick.
But Fisher said they are following the guidelines of the Summit County Health Dept.
“Obviously, there’s a choice there. But the main thing that we have to balance is these are people, and we don’t want to unnecessarily expose them if we don’t have to. Because this exposure could cause complications especially with those that are vulnerable, and we do have folks who are more vulnerable in this group of people.”
Fisher wouldn’t say if the staff’s COVID tests come back negative whether they would resume counting this week... The clerk’s office he said has certified other county employees to pick up the ballots at the drop boxes.
“The other thing that’s happening in the county is because we’re still under an emergency situation, we’re rallying any way we can, other resources in order to assist the clerk’s office through this”
All votes will be counted, eventually and until the officials canvass November 17. Only unofficial results will be reported election night.