Bradenton Courts Bring Back Masks, Expand COVID Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is expanding at courthouses in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties as COVID-19 rates rise.

Since August 1, masks have been “strongly encouraged” in 12th Judicial Circuit courthouses as subvariants of the omicron strain of the coronavirus drive the latest spike in cases, Chief Justice Charles Roberts ordered on August 29. July.

“Over the past few months, every county on our circuit has experienced COVID-19 positivity rates between 10 and 20 percent, and the health, safety and well-being of courthouse visitors, jurors, staff court and court officers are always a high priority,” Roberts said in the administrative order.

The manatee is still at a high level of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with a 24% positivity rate and a 10% increase in cases over the past seven days.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, contact tracing efforts have also been expanded.

Anyone who was in any of the tri-county courthouses and tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms within 24 hours is now asked to notify the Human Resources office of Court Administration at 941-749-3600, ext. 1791 or [email protected]

When reporting a positive COVID-19 case, members of the public will be asked to provide the exact locations where they were, including the building, floor and courtroom, identifying information about any person within 6 feet for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes, including attorneys, interpreters, jurors and bailiffs.

“To limit the transmission of COVID-19 among court personnel, the court has implemented a very strict COVID-19 policy for judges and court employees, including required protocols for contact tracing, self- isolation and quarantine.”

Protocols already require all judges and courthouse workers who test positive for COVID-19, or who have been directly exposed to someone who has tested positive, to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before returning. at work.

While the court cannot enforce testing requirements for the public, Roberts’ order prohibits anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms, from entering a court facility.

Stay home if you’re sick, court says

Anyone who is sick or has any of the following symptoms should not enter the courthouse:

  • A cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aches
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • New loss of taste of smell

To reschedule a court date

Anyone who needs to reschedule a court date due to COVID-19 is asked to contact the county court administration or clerk:

judicial center tt.jpg
The Manatee County Judiciary Center is expanding coronavirus contact tracing and encouraging the use of masks. Tiffany Tompkins [email protected]

This story was originally published August 11, 2022 1:07 p.m.

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Jessica De Leon has covered crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage, including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her Death cover of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.