Four states due to head to the polls on Tuesday will not delay their primary elections as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to upend the organisation of the US presidential election.

Louisiana last night announced it will delay its primary vote next month because of the outbreak, with a new date set for April 4.

But Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio insisted their votes would go ahead as planned. 
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose joined his counterparts yesterday in a joint statement affirming that their states’ primary elections would take place on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Scientists close to developing coronavirus vaccine 

“Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday,” a statement said.

Elections officials around Ohio reported that they are losing poll workers scheduled to work Election Day because of fear about the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr LaRose earlier this week ordered local elections officials to move voting locations at about 125 senior living facilities to new polling places to insulate residents of those facilities from the spread of the virus.

Ohio has five confirmed cases of Covid-19, and about 50 others were under investigation. Governor Mike DeWine signed an order on Thursday banning most gatherings of 100+ people.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Cancer treatments are hit as crisis deepens 

However the order does not apply to voters casting their ballots in the election.
Polling places are different from other large gatherings, the secretaries wrote, because they draw people from smaller communities together for a short period of time. 

Concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings, though, draw from a broader area and for extended time.

Voting machine manufacturers also have provided information about how to sanitise machines, and local boards of elections have received information from health officials about hand-washing, they wrote.

Mr LaRose’s office told county boards this week that they will be reimbursed for buying sanitisers, disinfectants, disinfecting or antibacterial wipes, disposable gloves, rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, and other sanitising materials.

“As each of our four states prepare for voters to head to the polls on a Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we are working closely with our state health officials to ensure that our poll workers and voters can be confident that voting is safe,” the secretaries wrote in their statement.

Elections officials in Ohio have been encouraging voters to cast early ballots or to vote absentee if they do not want to go to the polls. 

But the pandemic threatens the US election. Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both cancelled rallies in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, citing recommendations from public health officials to avoid assembling large indoor crowds. 

A televised debate tomorrow between the men in Arizona, will take place without a studio audience or media “spin room”.

But the Trump campaign announced a “Catholics for Trump” coalition launch in Wisconsin, on Thursday next week, where the president is expected to address thousands of supporters as if it were business as usual.

It came as, last night, President Trump declared a national emergency to handle the growing outbreak in the US. 

The declaration – “two very big words”, according to Mr Trump – allows the federal government to tap up to $50bn (£40bn) in emergency relief.

The move loosens medical insurance regulations, and could speed up the creation of new hospitals and the search for new treatments.

There are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 40 deaths. Several US states have taken measures to stem the inflation rate, banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.

Mr Trump’s administration has come under recent scrutiny over its failure to provide Americans with widespread coronavirus testing.