Barron County Court System: Strategies for a Pandemic Influenza

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A collaborative effort between public health and local courts resulted in a document that aims to prepare the court system for an influenza pandemic. The guidance provides a local judicial system with a thorough and succinct overview of guidelines, procedures, and specific directions to follow during a pandemic. Guidelines are built on the premise that a local court system must maintain its functional operations during an emergency to ensure justice for the people. The document lays the groundwork for the continuation of necessary court activities during a pandemic and recognizes the key role the court system can play in responding to isolation and quarantine orders. It also assumes that courts will operate in a manner that protects the health and safety of their employees.

The strategy identifies mandatory and optional court functions; describes a plan for "judicial surge capacity;" and provides supporting information on isolation and quarantine policy, communicable disease policy, family preparedness tips, and strategies to reduce the spread of pandemic influenza at the office. One reviewer noted that although some of the information provided is specific to the Barron County Court System, the document provides an excellent template and starting point for other judicial systems. It also highlights an important local entity with which public health should develop a partnership during preparedness activities. One reviewer thought that this guide demonstrated a close working relationship between the local health department and the court systems in Barron County.

Most of the recommendations are currently aligned closely with the CDC's mitigation guidance. During a pandemic, specific information in the section on Infection Control may need to be modified based on disease containment or infection control information from the CDC. A reviewer also thought that the Barron County guidance would be more useful if the document referenced specific infection and mitigation strategies, as well as ways in which court staff would be monitored for signs and symptoms of influenza. Overall, reviewers found this guidance to be an excellent and important effort that highlights the needs of a vital local entity during a pandemic.

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