Coronavirus Screening Courthouse Visitors

President's Message
July 7, 2020

COBANC opposes the temperature screening that began Monday, June 6. While we are not opposed to the temperature screening of court users, we are opposed to how it is being implemented. As you may be aware, we have filed for Impact Bargaining as this new job duty is not in your job description.

An obvious first choice for a screener is a medical officer or nurse. But we are sure that cost was a consideration. The choice was made to have a uniformed officer to perform the task. No matter who is selected, screeners should be trained on how to safely complete temperature screens. As a best practice, OCA should retain a medical professional to train screeners on how to conduct a temperature check safely and effectively. They should also be informing the employee of the risks of serving as a screener. The screener should be tested regularly to make sure that they have not contracted the virus. None of this is addressed in the Memo. To our knowledge, it has not been done and there are no plans to do so.

Several temperature assessment technologies are available for this task. Many of them, such as thermal imaging devices, can be monitored from a much safer distance than the non-contact infrared thermometers that are being distributed by OCA. Unfortunately, OCA's choice of screening device increases the risk of exposure to the employee assigned to this task. We can only surmise that price was the overriding factor in the decision to go with the Yuwell YT-1C. There are safer methods available. Spending more on equipment that would have made this task safer would have been much more cost-effective than hiring a medical professional. What is one life worth? We hate to think that someone did the actuarial analysis of that.

Now consider the visual - a uniformed law enforcement officer putting a pistol-shaped device to someone's forehead. In light of recent tensions and anti-police sentiment, this is something many court users will find disturbing. Now consider that officer is dealing with a line of court users that have not passed through security screening. Too bad we can't measure the mental state of the court user we will be screening. The screener will be focused on the task at hand, not necessarily on the unscreened individuals that are on the line. This all adds up to a dangerous situation for the officer.

We would like to sign off by inviting those who issued this protocol to come out of their offices and perform temperature screening at the entrances to our courthouses and demonstrate to everyone just how safe this new protocol is. We will provide all the security that you need - from a six-foot distance, of course.

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