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At least 52 people who voted in Wisconsin’s presidential primaries earlier in April tested positive for coronavirus, but despite this, the Democratic push to postpone the state’s special congressional election in two weeks has been unsuccessful.
Democrat Gov. Tony Evers tried to alter the way the April 7 election was conducted, urging that it be done entirely by mail to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but he was shot down by the Republican-led Legislature and conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court.
In general, patients who have COVID-19 begin exhibiting symptoms within 14 days of being exposed to the virus, and all of those individuals who contracted coronavirus and attended the election tested positive by April 21.
However, several of these people have admitted that they could have been exposed to the virus by other means unrelated to the election, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) said Tuesday.
In this April 7, 2020 file photo, voters observe social distancing guidelines as they wait in line to cast ballots in the presidential primary election in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash File)
Julie Willems Van Dijk, who heads the state health agency, said the officials won’t continue to include the polling sites as part of contact tracing for future coronavirus cases and said “the door will be closing” on those cases linked to the election because too much time has passed.
Republicans said the low number of cases tied to the election proved that voting was done safely, despite calls from Democrats prior to move the date amid warnings of a spike in positive cases.
“They sought to exploit a global pandemic to fit their narrative and failed,” said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Voters cast their ballots for both the presidential primary and a state Supreme Court race despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 6,200 people and killed 300 others in the state since the outbreak began.
In this April 7, 2020, photo, Doug Milks disinfects voting booths after being used, as voters cast ballots in the state’s presidential primary election in Madison, Wis. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP File)
About 71 percent of all voters in the April 7 election cast absentee ballots and some are pushing for the same in the upcoming special congressional race on May 12, which is expected to draw a smaller crowd than the state’s primary did, with only one House seat up for grabs in the 7th Congressional District.
The region covers all or parts of 26 northern and northwestern Wisconsin counties and is the state’s largest congressional district, geographically. The biggest city in the district is Wausau, with a population of about 40,000 people.
Democrat Tricia Zunker, president of the Wausau School Board, will face Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany — who has been endorsed by President Trump — to fill the vacated seat of Republican incumbent Sean Duffy after he stepped down in September 2019 to focus on his family and his child, who suffers from a serious heart condition.
Trump carried the heavily Republican district by 20 percentage points in 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.