County responds to coronavirus outbreak |

County responds to coronavirus outbreak

The parking lot of the Douglas County Community & Senior Center was empty on Tuesday around lunchtime.
Kurt Hildebrand

A wet cough from the back of the courtroom on Tuesday prompted District Judge Tod Young to order the cougher out of the building.

While the wheels of justice continue to grind in Douglas County, to say its business as usual would be incorrect.

Those dealing with the public at the Douglas County Judicial & Law Enforcement Center are wearing gloves. Trials, including a four-week murder case that was supposed to start on Tuesday, have been continued and jurors are urged not to come to the judicial center.

An order signed by Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Kristina Pickering authorized the courts to conduct nonessential court hearings by video or telephone, decided based on filings or rescheduled.

Essential cases will continue to be heard including in-custody criminal cases, but the courts have ordered deputies not to arrest anyone on a traffic warrant, for failure to appear or contempt of court, where the bail is less than $900 or when the warrant is more than three years old, and instead issue a new citation.

That does not apply to instances of driving under the influence, reckless driving, domestic battery or crimes of violence.

Businesses are closing doors and restaurants are reverting to take-out only as residents “hunker down” to try to prevent the spread of the virus that closed schools across the Silver State.

On Monday, Douglas County commissioners declared a local state of emergency in response to the outbreak.

“Our intent in issuing a state of emergency is to ensure uninterrupted access to the resources necessary to keep people as safe as possible,” said Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates. “The declaration is not a reason for elevated concern at this time. It is our hope that aggressive action now will speed the resolution of this public health event.”

Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverley reassured residents that law enforcement and patrol operations are continuing normally.

He asked residents who required records or general information to call 782-9933 or 782-9900 instead of coming into the center.

Jail visitation has been suspended until further notice.

“We know many of you have expressed concern with the recent school closure,” Coverley said. “Our No. 1 priority is to keep our resources and patrol units out in our neighborhoods protecting Douglas County residents. At this time, COVID-19 has not affected our ability to provide services to the public.”

He asked residents follow the Sheriff’s Office on Twitter @DouglasSheriff.

By Tuesday, the Douglas County Community & Senior Center was closed, along with Kahle Community Center at Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe-Douglas Senior Center and the Topaz Ranch Estates Community Center through April 6.

Community Services Director Scott Morgan said all meetings, activities and functions at the county’s facilities and parks are suspended.

Lunch at the Gardnerville senior center was sparsely attended on Monday, and was the last meal that will be served there for a while.

The county will continue delivering Meals on Wheels and is encouraging seniors who would normally eat at the center to sign up by calling 782-5500, ext. 1 to arrange to either pick up food at the center or home delivery. Drive-up meals will be available 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Meals on Wheels or pickup will consist of seven frozen meals. The county is suggesting a donation of $3.

All parks are open, but the community health clinic and the Douglas County Animal Shelter are closed. Residents are urged to call 782-9061 for the shelter and 782-9038 to make appointments with the health clinic after April 6.

The Douglas County Public Library announced it was closing until further notice.

“All library events, services and programs at both the Minden and Lake Tahoe branches have been suspended pending the reopening of the library,” spokeswoman Heather Frueh said Tuesday.

The library is asking that patrons keep any materials they have. There will be no penalties for overdue books, and due dates will be extended for the time being.

Library patrons are encouraged to visit for electronic and downloadable resources.