AP NEWS

In-court legal proceedings in Vegas scaled back due to virus

March 14, 2020 GMT

Nevada’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak now include not starting new jury trials and trying to avoid holding courtroom hearings in state courts for Las Vegas.

The Eighth Judicial District issued a statement Friday night announcing those steps and others to protect the community during the pandemic.

The pause on jury trials in civil and criminal trials is for 30 days but any jury trial currently underway will proceed, the district’s statement said.

The district cited Gov. Steve Sisolak’s declaration of a state of emergency on Thursday and “the severity of the risk posed to the public” by the virus.

Meanwhile, Washoe County Health District officials announced a fourth positive case in the Reno area of northern Nevada, raising the statewide total to 21.

Also, Sisolak created a new medical panel to help guide officials’ efforts to contain the virus.

The new Reno-area case involves a man in his 20s who has not traveled outside the country and who was self-isolating a home as officials tried to identify close contacts he’d had to prevent further spread of the diesase, the health district said.

District Health Officer Kevin Dick said officials expected to see community transmission of the virus so the latest case wasn’t a surprise.

Dick said the case should drive home the need to use precautionary measures and to practice social distancing to help reduce and prevent spread.

In addition to the four cases in the Reno area, 16 cases have been reported in the Las Vegas area and one in the Carson City area.

Sisolak’s office an Saturday announced he’d formed a medical advisory team chaired by Dr. Ihsan Azzam, the state’s chief medical officer, and including four other medical professionals.

“Dr. Azzam and this medical advisory team represent some of the brightest and most well-respected medical professionals in the state,” Sisolak said. “In this rapidly developing situation, it is critical that we turn to those with expertise in infection control and public health to guide our decision-making, and I have full confidence that we’ve assembled the right team for the job.”

Nevada’s tourism and casino industries have been reeling due to travel cutbacks prompted by the outbreak, and the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announce it would keep call centers open longer to accept claims for unemployment insurance claims.

The order scaling back state court proceedings in Las Vegas, the state’s most populous urban area, said many hearings that aren’t conducted by video or telephone will be decided without in-court hearings or be rescheduled, the judicial district’s announcement said.

Exceptions will be made for “”essential case types and hearings” such as in-custody criminal sentencings, civil commitment cases, bail motions, probation revocation hearings and protection orders, the judicial district said.