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Georgia postpones primaries again because of coronavirus

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia has postponed primary elections for the second time this year because of the coronavirus, pushing back primaries scheduled for May to June.

Thursday’s move came a day after New Jersey and Virginia joined at least 15 other states in delaying their primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic so election officials can make preparations to address public health concerns and deal with a poll worker shortage brought on by the outbreak.

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin went ahead with its elections, forcing thousands of voters to brave hourslong lines and overcrowded polling places amid the pandemic.

“This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.

The first-term Republican secretary had already opted to postpone Georgia's presidential primaries, initially scheduled for March 24, to May 19 to coincide with the state’s other 2020 primary elections.

Georgians were scheduled then to choose party nominees for a U.S. Senate seat, U.S. House members and members of the state House and Senate.
Elections for judges and district attorneys were also set for May 19.

One main concern among election officials has been the health — and availability — of poll workers.

Some counties in Georgia have reported losing poll workers, who are often older, at a rapid pace as the virus has spread because many are fearful for their health.

Inmates sue over COVID-19 response

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A group of inmates concerned about contracting COVID-19 have filed a lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the leaders at the Department of Corrections.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Oregon Justice Resource Center on behalf of the inmates, alleges the DOC has not taken the necessary steps to slow the spread of the virus inside its 14 institutions where more than 14,000 inmates live, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The suit asks a judge to mandate a social distance of six feet or more between inmates in all of the DOC’s facilities.

If that can’t be accomplished, the lawsuits ask that a three-judge panel review cases and reduce the number of prisoners in DOC’s facilities so it is possible.
Three inmates at the Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem had tested positive for the virus, the agency said last week.

A total of five DOC staff members had also tested positive. Two work at the Santiam prison and three work at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

The inmates named in the lawsuit have asthma and other respiratory ailments, some are HIV positive, others are elderly.

Late last month, DOC Director Collette Peters told OPB in an interview her agency was doing everything they can to keep people safe but acknowledged the challenges of social distancing in a prison.

“We have been working around the clock to prepare ourselves for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our institutions,” Peters said.

The lawsuit acknowledges DOC has taken some measures but argues they’re not enough.

The lawsuit says older adults and those with underlying medical issues face serious illness or death.


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