Judicial Branch officials closed the Danbury courthouse at 146 White St. Wednesday until further notice after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The courthouse was closed immediately for cleaning and sanitation after branch officials learned of the test results, officials said.
But after a review of the business traffic through the courthouse, Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick J. Carroll decided to close the building and shift all court cases that would be handled in Danbury to the Waterbury Geographical Area Courthouse at 400 Grand St., Waterbury until further notice.
The clerk served the public through a glass window, officials said. A total of 11 employees came within 6 feet of the clerk for a period of 15 minutes so they were instructed to contact their medical provider and self-monitor for 14 days, according to Melissa Farley, executive director of External Affairs for the Judicial Branch.
Judicial Branch officials confirmed Tuesday that a judicial marshal at the Torrington courthouse tested positive which prompted several other employees to be required to stay home and isolate.
The marshal worked in the basement, limiting his contact with the public and other employees, officials said.
The union representing that state’s roughly 680 judicial marshals has been vocal in pointing out that curtailed hours and a reduction in court functions would likely not be enough to protect employees from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Judicial officials scraped a plan this week that would have required judicial marshals to take the temperature of any prisoner brought to court by police after the union pointed out that employees hadn’t been given any instructions or personal protective equipment.
State officials said as of Wednesday, 875 Connecticut residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 19 have died. Concerns over the spread of the virus, which causes fever, cough and difficulty breathing, have led Gov. Ned Lamont to shut down places where people gather including non-essential businesses and schools to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are the most likely to have complications or death from the disease.
As of March 19, Judicial Branch functions were curtailed to 13 courthouses throughout the state which were only addressing “high priority” functions, including arraignments and restraining orders. Juvenile proceedings are taking place at two courthouses, down from 11, and staff was reduced at each location.
In a memo issued to Judicial Branch staff Tuesday, Carroll asked for volunteers who would be willing to work as of March 30 at the courthouses which remained open. If not enough volunteers came forward, mandatory shifts may be necessary, Carroll said.
“Please be advised that this is a fluid situation and the hours of operation of those courthouses and facilities that are open may be reduced, if necessary,” Carroll said.
Judicial Branch employees are being paid whether or not they are working at the state’s courthouse, Carroll said. The employees who have been working since March 19 have been granted “emergency temporary compensation” with the accrual of compensatory time, officials said.
Employees who are volunteering to work on March 30 and after must notify their supervisors, Carroll said.