The rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, combined with moves by Tulsa requiring facemasks, have prompted several of the judges of Creek County to beseech the County Commissioners for additional restrictions on the courthouse. Judge Golden did most of the speaking for the judges who attended, which included Judge Laura Farris and Judge Hake. Golden began by saying that “masks are essential for commerce,” and that the purpose of the proposed mandate was to “ensure the public that our building is as safe as we can make it.”
Commissioner Leon Warner asked if they were forced to shut down completely, “what would that look like?” Golden replied that was essentially what happened back in March, and at that point, the courts “built up a pretty good backlog.” He admitted that to shut down for a 14-day quarantine would “not be a pretty sight,” and gave the impression that business at the courthouse would almost grind to a halt because of the inability to file the paperwork needed for nearly everything. “There’s still a paper trail needed, even when working remotely,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do anything. Real estate, divorces, nothing…I think an emergency protective order is the only thing that would survive.”
Golden, Hake and Farris all talked about how they were staggering their dockets wherever possible in order to follow Governor Stitt’s orders about social distancing, and making use of rooms usually kept empty to help handle overflow, since the courtrooms were now only able to hold ten or so people, in some cases.
Still, Golden told the Commissioners that “we’re a people business,” and that some cases—especially those regarding junveniles—were time-sensitive, and they needed to be able to continue to conduct business but do so in a way that would provide the safest environment possible under the circumstances.
The County Commissioners signed off on a resolution stipulating that “all people entering the County Courthouse will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while in the public areas of the Courthouse.” The County will provide masks to those that don’t have one, subject to availability. They will not permit masks that cover the entire face or head.
Additionally, anyone entering the Courthouse may be required to submit to a forehead temperature reading and will be turned away if their reading returns a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees.
The Courthouse will also restrict the use of the elevators, and will allow the public to only enter at the North entrance.
The general public is asked to refrain from doing any non-essential business at the Courthouse during this time.
The resolution is a temporary measure and will expire or renew each week at the County Commissioners’ meetings.
As of Monday, the state is at 20,745 positive cases of COVID-19, while Creek County has 217 cases, with 8 deaths and 159 recoveries, according to the data at https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov