10 Detroit federal court security officers have virus symptoms

Ten federal court security officers who work in downtown Detroit have "exhibited" symptoms similar to the coronavirus, forcing an indefinite closure of court facilities, a court spokesman said Friday.

The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in downtown Detroit.

Four of the court security officers who work for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan have been hospitalized and two of them have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.

According to court officials, the officers were in the court building between March 12-21. The building was closed March 24 for disinfecting and the entire court staff was sent home.

The identities of the affected officers are not being disclosed. Security officers, who work at both the district courthouse and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court across the street, were sent home to self-monitor for 14 days. The bankruptcy court is closed and being deep-cleaned as well, according to court officials.

Court employees have been advised to contact their supervisors if they begin to show symptoms. Most staffers are working remotely by computer and telephone and signs  have been posted at courthouses advising attorneys and the public of the situation. 

Also on Friday,  the Michigan Supreme Court extended previous restrictions on court operations throughout the state through the middle of April.

"In light of Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-21 that temporarily suspends activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life until at least April 13, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., the Court directs that the expiration date of April 3, 2020, in Administrative Order Nos. 2020-1 and 2020-2 is extended until April 14, 2020, or as provided by further order of the Court," the newly-issued order read Friday.

Since March 12, courthouses around the state of Michigan have gone into modified operations adjourning some civil proceedings and even felony hearings for defendants who are not in custody. The move by the Michigan Supreme Court is aimed at stemming the spread of the potentially-deadly COVID-19 in the state's 242 courthouses.

Locally, some court buildings have had to close for a couple of days to undergo "deep cleaning" after it was discovered that attorneys had tested positive for the coronavirus.

John Nevin, a spokesman for the Michigan Supreme Court, said Friday's order is in conjunction with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order for Michigan residents to stay home unless they are doing essential errands or work.

"... this just makes sure courts are in sync," he said.

On March 15, the  Michigan Supreme Court unanimously authorized trial courts “to implement emergency measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and provide the greatest protection possible to those who work and have business in our courts.”