Public Health shares election guidelines for skilled nursing facilities

Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 00:13:29-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The General Election is just five days away. As part of 23ABC's election coverage, we have tackled the issues of mail-in ballots and what the process will look like for those who chose to cast their vote on November 3rd.

Kern County Public Health Department Skilled Nursing Facility Consultant Jared Leavitt said all 18 skilled nursing facilities in Kern County received this letter from the California Department of Public Health encouraging them to get residents involved in this year's general election.

“So there is a letter that went out October 5, and it was targeted towards skilled nursing facilities and the subject is voting during the pandemic,” Leavitt said.

The letter has guidelines for nursing staff, like making sure residents have information surrounding the election including voting timelines. The guidance goes further stating residents can request help with reading election material and ballots, registering to vote, as well as updating their voter registrations, and tracking their ballot.

“Each facility has a different physical layout. They have a different population so that’s really up to the leadership at each specific facility,” Leavitt said.

All skilled nursing facilities who offer the voting service must make sure residents adhere to social distance guidelines including the use of a staggered entry. The state is stressing that a mask and gloves should be worn when in the ballot booth.

Activities manager Sara Tellez of The San Joaquin Nursing and Rehabilitation facility in Bakersfield said while their facility has not had a COVID-19 case the last few months they've decided the best and safest way to keep everyone safe was to transport residents ballots herself to the elections office or post office daily.

“Sure, enough we get it out to the post office and get it out for them and they actually check a few days later to see if their ballot has been counted and it has been and their very happy very pleased,” Tellez said.

The state letter also mentions that staff must help residents find the location and transportation to their polling site. If a resident can't travel they must help them access a mobile polling site.

The Kern County Public Health Department said that they've made sure that all 18 skilled nursing facilities are properly stocked with PPE for staff and residents for this election.