I was required to show up for jury duty at 8 a.m. Monday, July 12, to the Clay County Circuit Court. We were advised that if vaccinated, we did not need to wear a mask. Those unvaccinated were asked to wear one.

Although I am fully vaccinated, with the information I had from trusted local news sources about the Delta variant now circulating in our community, I wore a mask and planned to social distance. However, when we checked in to the jury holding room, we were packed shoulder to shoulder in a poorly ventilated room for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. There were about 100 people. Few of my fellow jurors were masked. Social distancing was impossible. Several unmasked people could be heard coughing.

The Clay County Health Department website states, "Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should continue to take precautions such as wearing a well-fitted mask, staying 6 feet or more from those they don't live with and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces."

We did not have the option of avoiding crowds or avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Furthermore, we were required to be there by law. I also find it hard to believe that of the 100-plus people, sharing the air in the space we were provided, were all vaccinated considering the vaccine hesitancy in our state.

It was the court’s responsibility to provide a safe space for us.

After approximately 90 minutes, I was excused from having to serve. But during the entire process, I believe my health and well-being, the health and well-being of my fellow jurors and the health and well-being of the courthouse employees were endangered. This pandemic is not over. The Clay County courthouse should have provided a safer environment.

Bernadine Kline


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