Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
Clermont Court of Common Pleas judges announced they will suspend jury trials and implement new procedures at the courthouse amid the COVID-19 pandemic in order to stop the spread of the virus.
"Procedures have already been implemented such as the increased use of hand sanitizers and disinfectants to wipe down 'high-touch' areas in our offices and in the public areas of the Courthouse," the court wrote in its announcement Tuesday.
Effective March 17, all jury trials scheduled within the next 30 days will be continued, and no one will need to report for jury duty through April 17.
Civil matters, criminal pre-trial matters, criminal review hearings and matters by agreement will occur by phone or videoconferencing if available, as authorized by the assigned judge.
Only individuals with an interest in a case in court that day will be permitted into the courthouse, including defendants and immediate family, crime victims and subpoenaed witnesses. Exceptions to that mandate "will be granted for persons needing access to the Clerk of Court’s Office and the Probation Department."
Civil protection orders can still be filed and heard at the courthouse.
Judges’ dockets will also be staggered as authorized by the assigned judge, so attorneys should check with the court for scheduling changes.
Attorneys should also check on their clients' health status and request a continuance if appropriate. Probationers should contact their Probation Department regarding reporting changes.
"As a provider of essential government services, the Court remains open for business," the statement read. "In an ongoing effort to keep our employees and the general public as healthy as possible, we will continue to engage in discussions with County officials and will make decisions to further minimize the risk of spreading this virus."
For more information and updates, click here.
Last week, Hamilton County similarly suspended jury trials and other proceedings at the Downtown Courthouse until April 13.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.