July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Judge takes flu matters into own hands

Allison Wood | The Gazette

MEDINA — He didn’t order anyone to wear a surgical mask, but Judge Dale Chase isn’t taking any chances.

The lobby of Medina Municipal Court smelled like disinfectant Wednesday after Chase ordered everyone to use hand sanitizer, citing concerns about the swine flu.

“I thought it might be a suitable precaution,” Chase said Wednesday. “It is a reasonable way to ensure the health of those entering and the staff.”

Anyone entering the court, including employees, defendants and attorneys, must use the sanitizer, a court order from Chase states.

On Wednesday, court employees installed hand-sanitizer dispensers at the entrance, but those entering in the morning had to use disinfecting wipes after going through the metal detector, he said.

Several jury trials scheduled for today were continued to lessen potential exposure, he said.

“I know people who have been to Mexico within the last month,” the judge said. “We have three dozen people that we don’t know where they or their family have been.”

He said custodians will sanitize public areas and items such as doorknobs several times a day.

“I wanted to be proactive,” Chase said. “We get between 200 and 300 people here a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

He said he is not sure how long the court order will last, but he checks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site daily for updates and spoke with officials with the Medina County Health Department on Tuesday.

Whether future trial dates will be continued is yet to be determined.

“To continue a jury trial for a month is incidental compared with the potential exposure to people,” he said.

There have been 91 confirmed swine flu cases in the United States, including a case involving an Elyria boy. On Wednesday, a Mexican toddler visiting Texas was the first reported U.S. fatality.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.