NC courts respond, cut court schedules, to reduce public threat
On Friday afternoon, Swain Community Hospital took steps to further limit the risks the novel coronavirus COVID-19 poses to patients and imposed visitor suspension at the inpatient unit at the hospital.
In a media statement, the hospital began by stating it is “committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors” and is working closely with the local health department to “plan, detect, protect and respond.”
So far, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Western North Carolina, however, following Centers for Disease Control guidelines and the State of Emergency declaration by NC Gov. Roy Cooper, the hospital announced it would restrict visitation for the inpatient unit within the hospital.
By phone, Lucretia Stargell, vice president, explained that while the hospital has always had the standard flu restrictions in place, they deemed it necessary to take steps to further protect the inpatient population. Several of the patients stay up to four weeks at a time because they are in rehabilitation, she said.
The release also states that the patients ED an inpatient are screened based on their recent travel history; personal protective equipment is available; and hand hygiene products are easily accessible throughout the facility.
Cheri Beasley, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court informed the legal community in a notice Friday afternoon the courts are declaring catastrophic conditions resulting from the public health threat posed by COVID-19 across the state under NCGS 7A-39(b)(2).
Although superior and district court will be open, there are two emergency directives in place that will reduce the cases to be heard at this time.
Under the first directive, emergency relief cases (such as first appearances or bond hearings), remote proceedings or emergency relief (such as domestic violence protective orders) can continue as will those proceedings where a jury has already been seated. All others will be rescheduled at least 30 days out.
Under the second directive, notices will be posted by clerk of courts that those who have likely been exposed to COVID-19 are not to enter the courthouse.
Those qualifications are defined as: someone who has traveled to China, South Korea, Japan Italy or Iran within the past 14 days; has been quarantined or self-monitored; diagnosed; or lives with or has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
The order takes effect starting on Monday, March 16.