San Antonio Judge With COVID-19 Urges Public To Stay Home

By Emma Cueto
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Law360 (April 3, 2020, 4:12 PM EDT) -- A Texas state court judge in San Antonio has reportedly been diagnosed with COVID-19 but is recovering well at home, and she encouraged others on social media to stay home as well.

Judge Luz Elena Chapa, who has served on the Fourth Court of Appeals since 2013, shared a news article about her condition on Facebook on Tuesday and urged people to “stay the course” in response to the novel coronavirus.

“Our short term sacrifice is the price we should all be willing to pay for the benefit of all,” she wrote. “Please stay home. Our family is in this with you.”

Judge Chapa developed symptoms in mid-March after returning from a family vacation in Utah, according to a report from the San Antonio Express-News. Judge Chapa reportedly took precautions such as using hand sanitizer and wearing a mask on the plane home, but she has since tested positive for COVID-19.

Her symptoms have reportedly been relatively minor, without the severe respiratory issues that can lead to hospitalization or death in more serious cases.

Her fever has since subsided and she is recovering well, according to the San Antonio paper.

Judge Chapa could not be reached for comment.

About 250 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, including nine deaths, according to the city's statistics. About a third of the confirmed cases have required hospitalization as of Thursday, the city said.

As COVID-19 has spread in the U.S., it has had a major impact on the legal world. Many people in the legal community have contracted the disease, and a former New York federal judge died on Wednesday from an apparent case.

Courts have also taken precautions to protect personnel and the public. The U.S. Supreme Court has been closed to the public for weeks, although it has tried to continue with its work remotely. Other federal courts have rescheduled trials or extended deadlines. Still others have gone further, such as the state courts in New York, which have ceased all nonessential functions and asked people who may have been exposed to the virus to stay away. 

Although Texas has not issued a shelter-in-place order as some other states have, it has asked the public to practice social distancing to prevent the transmission of the virus. The Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio, which houses the Fourth Court of Appeals, has stayed open but gone entirely virtual, with staff working remotely, according to its website.

--Editing by Haylee Pearl.

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