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Wisconsin postpones jury trials amid coronavirus concerns

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Jury trials in Wisconsin have been postponed until the end of May and in-person proceedings have been suspended statewide until at least April 30 in an effort to protect public health and keep courts operating during the coronavirus outbreak, the state Supreme Court has ordered.

The Supreme Court said Sunday that trials scheduled to begin from now until May 22 will be rescheduled until after that date. The announcement came the same day Wisconsin health officials said the state’s confirmed cases jumped by 100 cases, up to 381. Four people in the state have died from COVID-19, the disease that’s caused by the virus.

The Supreme Court said judges, clerks and others are required to use email, teleconferencing and videoconferencing rather than in-person courtroom appearances until at least April 30. An exception for in-person proceedings can be made if remote technology isn’t practical or adequate, and it’s up to the presiding judge of each circuit court to decide when exceptions can be made.

The Supreme Court also postponed oral arguments that were scheduled for March 30 and April 1.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health troubles, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Meanwhile, citing an increased risk of exposure, the city of Milwaukee has ended in-person early voting, but is still accepting absentee ballots by mail. The city said its Election Commission can no longer maintain sufficient staffing levels to keep the three early voting sites operating safely.

Scores of local leaders sent Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers a letter Sunday warning him that the state isn’t doing enough to protect voters from the coronavirus as the April 7 election approaches.

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