The threat of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has sent our country—and the world—into a tailspin. Residents of our largest state, California, have been ordered to stay at home, and other states could soon follow. It’s unprecedented and, for many of us, it’s frightening.
But rest assured that the team at Tittle & Perlmuter will continue to serve our clients and fight for justice through these uncertain times.
On Monday, March 16th, Tittle & Perlmuter decided to have our entire team work remotely from their homes. We felt it was important to do our part to stop the spread of Coronavirus by temporarily closing our offices in Ohio City and throughout Northeast Ohio. Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine, has implored all Ohioans to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of ten people or more, and we didn’t believe that was feasible in our close-knit office environment. We made this decision to protect the health and safety of our clients as well as our staff.
What does this mean for clients of Tittle & Permulter? First, we have already committed to making our offices 100 percent paperless. This means our law firm is fully functional from a remote basis. We use a service called FileVine to scan and store all of our case documents electronically. Tittle & Perlmuter can also schedule virtual consultations via video-conferencing technology, such as Zoom. We also use software that allows our clients to sign documents electronically.
That said, the near future of Ohio’s court system is uncertain. On March 14th, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor issued guidelines for Ohio’s courts, urging them to balance providing necessary services and protecting the public from COVID-19.
“Closing courthouses and disrupting services is not a plan,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “Going forward, first and foremost, is the need for collaboration and consideration…Each court is expected to engage all stakeholders when devising its response.”
As a result, Ohio’s hundreds of courthouses have instituted their own plans of action. Some have suspended hearings for defendants who are not in jail. Others have decided to reschedule any and all hearings for after April 3rd, when the acute period of Coronavirus spread is expected to end. Others, including the Lakewood Court, have chosen to stop providing certain services temporarily, including marriage ceremonies.
While the threat of Coronavirus may get worse before it gets better, there are reasons to remain positive. Government officials in Wuhan, China—where the virus began spreading last December—are reporting they have no new cases for the first time in months. Coronavirus hospitals in Wuhan are shutting down due to lack of new patients. A new report in the journal Nature Medicine says that the death toll in China might be much lower than initially reported—about 1.4 percent. Previously, the World Health Organization had estimated that 5.8 percent of all people who contracted Coronavirus in China died from the infection.
In Italy, where the death toll from Coronavirus recently surpassed China’s, there are signs of hope and renewal. For the first time in generations, the water flowing through the canals in Venice are clear due to lack of human activity. The locals can see schools of fish and even dolphins swimming through the city’s beautiful and historic canals. Residents of Sicily are singing to each other from their porches as they practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of Coronavirus. After Spain went into total lockdown, a certified personal trainer hosted an exercise class from the rooftop of his apartment building, as other residents followed from their rooftops and balconies. Yes, there is fear and chaos—but there are glimpses of joy as well.
Americans are doing what they can to help each other through this tough time. In Lakeway, Texas, a local Whataburger franchise delivered more than 200 meals to employees at HEB, a local grocery store chain. Throughout the Coronavirus epidemic, grocery stores throughout the country have remained open to provide food and basic necessities to the public—and the HEB workers were exhausted. However, they were all smiles after getting their free meals. One couple in Houston left staff at a local restaurant a $9,400 tip to get through the coming weeks. In Columbus, Ohio, a generous patron at Coaches Bar and Grill left the staff $2,500 on a check less than $30.
There is some good news even for people who fall ill with COVID-19. Worldwide, the survival rate for people who contract the virus is between 96 and 98 percent. The Imperial College of London, which released an authoritative report on Coronavirus and its impact worldwide, says the virus is far less deadly than the seasonal flu for people under the age of sixty. Even for those in their sixties, the mortality rate for Coronavirus is lower than the mortality rate of the 2017-2018 flu season.
Of course, all of us should pull together to protect our senior citizens, people with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, and others who are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s vitally important to follow the advice of our public health officials on how to stop the spread: wash your hands frequently, maintain a distance of six or more feet from other individuals while in public spaces, and stay home if you are feeling sick.
While our team is cooperating with the recommendations of our health experts and staying home for now, Tittle & Perlmuter is still ready and willing to take your case. Whether you or a loved one have been a victim of nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, a car or trucking accident, we are still available for a remote consultation in which we can decide if we are the right attorneys for you. Please e-mail or call us at 216-285-9991.