AKRON, Ohio — After two weeks in self-quarantine, Summit County Judge Alison McCarty finds herself in a strange, new reality.
"I'm extremely happy to be free again," she told News 5 on Monday during her first day back at the courthouse.
When Summit County Public Health advised McCarty in early March to isolate herself for 14 days, the judge's story line was big news.
Since then, schools have shut down for at least three weeks, restaurants are closed-- except for carryout and delivery orders-- and more than 50 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Ohio.
"It's kind of surreal to come out of that and then just see everything around me shutting down," McCarty said.
As a precaution, McCarty spoke with News 5 via FaceTime on March 2 and again on March 9 during her quarantine. She explained that she wanted to take extra precautions to reassure the public even though she wasn't experiencing any symptoms.
The judge was able to do some work from home. She also boxed up clothing to donate to Goodwill and had meals and groceries delivered since she couldn't leave to run errands.
"It was very weird to be confined to my home," she said.
In February, McCarty and her husband, Tom, met up with their daughter, Grace, during a trip to Italy where the coronavirus spread had just begun.
After returning home, the judge placed herself in quarantine after learning that Grace started to feel ill when she returned to her home in France. Doctors in France did not test Grace her for the coronavirus.
"We will never really know if she had it, but she's through it," McCarty said.
Even though the judge is back on the job, much of her work is limited to paperwork and ruling on motions via computer. All trials, with the exception of the Stanley Ford capital murder trial, have been delayed for at least two weeks. Summit County inmates are not being transported to courtrooms for hearings. Instead, those are taking place over video.
The judge stressed the criminal justice system is in place to help maintain order and said conflicts and crime are still going to happen during the time that the court system can't hear cases.
"We have a constant onslaught of cases, so every week we get new cases. That's just going to slow everything down," McCarty said. "I'm getting concerned, more for the restrictions of the freedoms. That's going to be very difficult for people."
However, as the someone who knows the importance of taking precautions during the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis, the judge is also trying to strike a calm tone for the public.
"Don't be scared. Just be sensible."