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According to health advisers, there is a rise of COVID-19 cases in our area and there is still a portion of the population that is unvaccinated or do not wear masks, according to a press release received Friday from Chief District Court Judge Brenda Branch.

“Moreover, other entities, organizations and businesses including schools, are still open requiring many of us to interact with vaccinated, unvaccinated and unmasked citizens on a daily basis,” Branch said in the release. “Therefore, a shutdown will not suffice, as this is a continuous situation that requires a long-term sustainable plan to prevent any unnecessary long term back log or delay of court response to our citizens. I have been advised by our local health department that the N95 masks provide the optimum protection against the viruses. Therefore, with a modified plan in place and the use of these masks as much as possible, we should be able to minimize the spread of the virus in our organization.”

This plan will include, among other things, strict enforcement of social distancing at six feet apart, the use of KN95 or N95 masks by court personnel in all common areas of the courthouse, limit the number of cases on the dockets, limit foot traffic into the courtrooms, and use of audio/video equipment for hearings as much as possible, Branch said in the release.

“We ask each department head to please notify other department heads as soon as possible if there is exposure in their department. We anticipate shutdowns only in the event of severe personnel shortages.”

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