March 22, 2020
Hello OCAABA members, friends and allies:
I hope this email finds you well in these challenging times. I have gathered the latest information and am providing updates for the courts and beyond in an effort to aid OCAABA members, friends and allies to do what lawyers do best: consume reliable information and convey it to others.  
The Orange County Superior Court is closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic pursuant to California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye's order  https://www.occourts.org/general-public/notices/general/Signed_COVID-19_Pandemic_Order_3_16_20.pdf
There was a flurry of activity Thursday at Central and CJ1 when attorneys were ordered to court for criminal matters. There has been press related to the event and it appears the court is now officially closed:
I was in attendance on Tuesday morning with 30 other OC Bar leaders (by teleconference) and received a great deal of information on what the court intended to do related to the closure.  As of this morning, much of that information is stale as the court issued the 3/20/20 News Release linked above. The court mentioned that any lawyers who do not have appearances should work from home. He also mentioned that several judges in the 65+ age group were self-isolating in accordance with the governor's order.  More than half of the court's staff has been excused from work but the court still remains operational for vital services.
The most recent press and activity has been centered on the criminal community as mandatory constitutional timelines required response.  Civil, Probate, Family, Juvenile, Traffic, Law and Motion were discussed at the meeting and the court requests we check the court website for updates  https://www.occourts.org/index.html
Phone and video appearance solutions are being implemented and I know Judge Nakamura is working tirelessly to solve problems as they arise.  As you can imagine, the court is endeavoring to solve innumerable issues to balance protecting individuals, cases, lawyers and staff.  Your understanding, patience and support is vital.
Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips activated the Continuity of Operations Plan ("COOP"), effective March 23, 2020 through and including May 1, 2020 "to ensure the continuous performance of essential functions and operations of the Court in light of the continuing emergency pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19, also known as the 'Coronavirus.'"  And issued the following orders/notices:
Updates will be posted on the court's website: https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/
OCBA had the foresight to swiftly form a COVID-19 task force and has been interfacing with the courts and affiliates to address the issues of our bar community.  The task force has been gathering information, offering webinars related to COVID-19 legal matters and created a web page which links pertinent news and helpful resources http://www.ocbar.org/covid-19. The next webinar is scheduled for March 25 at 12PM  http://www.ocbar.org/All-News/News-View/ArticleId/3785/OCBA-Webinar-On-Attorney-Well-Being-During-COVID-19-Wednesday-March-25-at-12-00-P-M
Judge Nakamura has asked court concerns go through the COVID-19 task force. The chair is OCBA Treasurer Dan Robinson. You may send information, suggestions or questions for the task force to  denise.esq@gmail.com
 and I will convey.
NAPABA and national advocacy to PROTECT APIs
NAPABA has cancelled Lobby Day and extended the deadline for Convention program submissions to April 20 at 5PM EST.  The 2020 NAPABA convention scheduled for November 5, 2020 in Los Angeles remains on the NAPABA calendar.   https://www.napaba.org/
Your OCAABA leaders are working with NAPABA and other advocacy groups across the nation calling for the protection of APIs and encouraging unity in this time of crisis. 
  • A motion has just passed to sign on to a letter to President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and FBI Director Christopher Wray denouncing xenophobia, calling for investigations and sounding the alarm against violence targeting APIs related to COVID-19.  Judy Chu mentions this letter in her public statement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGfGsXUCHbU 
RE:  The orders from Frank Kim, OC CEO - well, it was confusing but Orange County officials have declared the Governor's Order is the authority: 
Orange County local government information can be found at  https://www.ocgov.com/default.asp and here is a link to the latest information for Orange County facilities and departments:   https://cms.ocgov.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=114479  
COVID-19 is now in a community spread phase in Orange County:   https://voiceofoc.org/2020/03/oc-health-care-agency-reports-first-locally-acquired-case-of-covid-19/  And from The County of Orange COVID-19 information site updated daily:   https://www.ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/epidasmt/epi/dip/prevention/novel_coronavirus "
There is now epidemiological evidence of community transmission in Orange County, indicating that COVID-19 is spreading in the community."
Please remember that the numbers of diagnoses can be deceiving as the numbers depend  on how many people have been tested.  Not many have been tested in OC: from  https://www.ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/epidasmt/epi/dip/prevention/novel_coronavirus
"As of 3/21:
  • Total number of people tested by HCA Public Health Lab (PHL) and by commercial labs = 1,244
  • HCA PHL has kits available to test 1,062 specimens"
To put this in perspective, Orange County has 3.19 million people.  
Here is information related to Corona Virus testing:

Finally, I know we are all reeling from the pace of which our world is changing and we are just trying to keep body and soul together for ourselves, our families and our community.  As lawyers, our community looks to us as leaders.  I hope this information will help us explain to others what is going on and where they can find answers for themselves. I am taking this day by day, and I am thinking about ways we can help when/if we have the ability to do so. When you can, I hope you can think about  How We Can Help.
Currently, I am gauging interest in mobilizing our membership's ability to speak different languages to see if there is interest in offering our services to the county for telephonic outreach. https://voiceofoc.org/2020/03/gaps-in-coronavirus-outreach-to-non-english-speaking-families-and-businesses/  If you can help, please email me at  denise.esq@gmail.com.  
Some things we can do  RIGHT NOW:
  • Call/text/email our friends, family members and colleagues to support, make sure they have reliable information and are following the governor's order. It may be helpful to prioritize people you know who may not consume much news or have language barriers. There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation swirling in our community (and globally) so anything you can do may make a difference.
  • The governor is counting on social pressure to ensure his orders are followed. (As stated in his most recent press conference.) Be kind, be firm.
  • Please make sure to thank your local checkers, grocers, gas station attendants and all of the unsung heroes that are risking their health and the health of their families to support us.
  • There is a movement to try to pay something to the people in our spheres even if you have cancelled services. Anything you can spare will help with this sudden shutdown.
In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to continue to update you. A special thank you to your President-Elect - Charles Lin who prophetically predicted how serious the COVID-19 situation may become and was the genesis of OCAABA's COVID-19 response.  
We will get through this together!
In Unity,
Denise Crawford
OCAABA President
Some stories to make you feel better about all of this: