As the U.S. Capitol has already done, the Supreme Court is now taking measures to protect both itself and the public from the threat of coronavirus.
On Thursday, The Hill reported that the Supreme Court announced it would be shutting down its public galleries and public tours until further notice.
Business as usual
Though closed to the public, the high court will continue to deliberate cases as scheduled. SCOTUS spokeswoman Patricia McCabe clarified that “The building will remain open for official business, and case filing deadlines are not extended.”
Considering the age and health histories of several of our current justices, this is the prudent move.
In all, there are five justices 65 years old or older, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being the oldest at 87.
This health scare is a particular worry for Ginsburg considering that she recently had significant health issues and was hospitalized for the type of underlying conditions health officials have stated make our elderly more susceptible to the virus.
McCabe stated, “Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court building will be closed to the public…until further notice.”
State of emergency
For those thinking this measure is overly reactionary, it actually falls right in line with other public health measures being taken.
Over the last few days, virtually every professional and college sporting event has either been canceled or will be held without fans present due to recommendations that “social distancing” is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.
President Trump has also declared a state of emergency in the country as of Friday, which the New York Times reports will make “$50 billion in emergency funding available, lifting restrictions on doctors and hospitals and waiving interest on student loans.”
This will enable a large-scale ramping up of operations that in addition to other things, will enable coronavirus testing to roll out much more quickly throughout the country, a major concern for public health officials.
The measures being taken, specifically the cancellation of large public events and closing of public spaces, will help control the spread of the virus and limit potential exposure for everyone.