PBC elections chief tests positive for COVID-19
Wendy Sartory Link quarantines as her office completes work to certify the November election
Palm Beach County's top elections official has coronavirus but says her quarantined absence won't stop the county from meeting critical deadlines to certify the November election.
Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19 and is staying isolated at home, her office said Thursday in a statement.
Link and elections office workers got tested on Tuesday. Link said she is so far the only one to test positive.
"I have made arrangements with team members to ensure the process for (elections) services, including the completion of the November 2020 election canvassing and certification, remains on track," Link said in the statement.
Elections office attorneys have been told that the Florida's Division of Elections will certify Palm Beach County's tallies Friday, spokeswoman Judy Lamey said.
Of the tests conducted Tuesday on elections office staff and ballot-counters, only Link's confirmed the presence of the respiratory illness, Lamey said. The results came back Wednesday.
Link's office informed the two others who served with her on the three-member canvassing board, County Commissioner Gregg Weiss and County Judge Leonard Hanser. They worked closely together after the election reviewing questionable ballots.
Weiss, a voice on the County Commission for the most protective steps to combat the illness, said Thursday he was getting tested after Link called him with the news.
"I hope everything will work out," Weiss said, adding that a test he had gotten on Nov. 2 came back negative, and that he feels none of the symptoms commonly reported with COVID-19, such as coughing or shortness of breath. "I'm getting tested out of an abundance of caution."
Weiss and Lamey both said Link sounded OK when they talked to her by phone, though Weiss mentioned she had a stuffy nose.
The Riviera Beach warehouse that transforms into Palm Beach County's presidential election headquarters every four years hosted hundreds of people on Nov. 3.
Early on Election Day, Link accompanied first lady Melania Trump, who had tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of October, to a Palm Beach polling location.
Along with ballot-counters and elections office staff, the warehouse held more than a dozen political campaign workers watching the ballot count.
More than a dozen news reporters covered the event, including local journalists from The Palm Beach Post, WPTV and WLRN, and those from as far away as South Korea, France and Turkey.
Just about everyone, including Link, wore masks. To keep canvassing board members a safe distance from each other and those who wanted to monitor them, large television screens outside the room displayed ballots for observers to see.
Plastic dividers separated ballot-counters, who wore gloves in addition to their masks.
Unlike previous presidential elections, a large warehouse entrance was open, with a white tent set up in front of it, to allow airflow in and out, as recommended by health experts.