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COVID-19 prompts changes in Lake, Sanders County courtrooms

Lake County Courthouse
Posted at 9:48 AM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 13:10:32-04

The ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases across Western Montana has prompted some changes in procedures courtrooms in Lake and Sanders counties.

An email sent out details an Updated Court Administrative Order regarding COVID-19 and courtroom procedures for the 20th Judicial District.

  1. Everyone in the courtroom shall wear a mask, unless speaking to the court.
  2. Social distancing of six feet will be enforced for non-household members to the extent possible.
  3. Attorneys, parties and spectators may attend District Court proceedings in person to the extent space is available, or remotely by zoom. No prior permission is necessary to attend remotely.

The order is signed by Judge James A. Manley and covers both Lake and Sanders counties.

“The Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus is increasing in Montana at one of the highest rates in the country. It is now approaching or above new case infections during the previous peak, last winter,” the email reads.

The Montana COVID-19 state tracking website showed 53 new cases were reported on Wednesday with 249 active cases. Lake County Public Health reported the 47th COVID-19 related death -- a man in his 40s -- on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sanders County also was reporting 38 additional COVID-19 cases on Wednesday along with a total of 157 active cases.