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U.S. courthouse in Detroit shut after officer gets virus

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan announced Wednesday that it is closing its downtown Detroit courthouse to the public after a security officer tested positive for COVID-19, court officials said.

"The Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit was closed to the public today after a court security officer tested positive for the COVID-19 virus," said court spokesman David Ashenfelter in a press statement. "The General Services Administration (GSA), which owns the building, said it would remain closed to the public until the GSA can clean the courthouse according to federal guidelines. Additional details are not immediately available."

The Theodore Levin federal courthouse in downtown Detroit.

Earlier this month, federal court administrators issued guidelines to court offices regarding the possibility for closing, possible postponement of hearings and screening of individuals who come through the courthouses. 

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan announced two weeks ago that security officers would start screening people entering its Detroit courthouse, plus those in Ann Arbor, Bay City, Flint and Port Huron. 

“The court has been closely monitoring this situation and has issued this notice out of an abundance of caution,” Court Administrator David Weaver said March 11.

Those entering federal buildings must tell security officers if they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, been self-quarantined, experiencing symptoms of the virus, been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, or visited China, South Korea, Italy or Iran in the previous two weeks.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed plans for former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones to plead guilty to embezzlement, racketeering and a tax crime.

Jone' defense lawyer Bruce Maffeo of New York told The Detroit News he requested and received a two-week delay until April 2 due to concerns about traveling to Detroit during the virus outbreak. That hearing has since been postponed until April 15.

The coronavirus pandemic postponed what would have been a historic week in the ongoing UAW corruption scandal.

Former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton was scheduled to be sentenced March 17 for his role in a bribery and kickback scandal followed by Jones' plea two days later.

Ashton's sentencing was rescheduled for May 20.