Letter: Opening the Courts Now Makes No Sense

By Nora Oldwin

Science-driven policy instead of policy-Driven “science,” please … ?

Our courtrooms have been closed for months, during which time Yolo County experienced relatively few cases of COVID-19. Yet now that cases are shooting up, courts are suddenly opening for business.

I’m on the short list for jury service in Woodland, a current epicenter of COVID-19 cases. And, I’m also on the short list for dying from COVID-19. On Sunday, the New York Times published an article about how coronavirus spreads through aerosol created when people talk. Although masks stop projectile droplets, it is my understanding that the virus is not stopped by masks, but is carried through the areosol created when people talk. According to the WHO, aerosol created from talking can linger in the air for hours.

What is a trial if not hours of talk? Am I missing something here? While new cases and deaths from the virus are increasing in our county, the United States and in the entire world — on Monday, jurors are required to report for service in the new court house — which has windows that do not open, and relies on recirculated air for ventilation. Even if physically distanced, jurors will gather together for trials that can take, at a minimum two to three days, and last as long as months in a closed environment.

All the protocol in the world doesn’t mitigate the enforced exposure to the virus in the jury trial context for the attorneys, for the courtroom personnel and for jurors.

Nora Oldwin is a long-time Davis resident, attorney, member of Yolo People Power and a Vanguard Board Member.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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