116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The Linn County Courthouse has added another safety measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by asking people coming into the building to check their temperature at the entrance.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden recommended the county purchase a touchless thermometer for the public to use after jury trials resumed last month.
'I requested it a few months ago, and it was installed this week,” Vander Sanden said. 'I just thought it was a good idea if we were going to ask people to serve as jurors, then we should take the necessary steps to screen those who might be sick in order to keep everyone safe. This is a contagious disease and we should be mindful of that.”
Ben Rogers, chairman of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, said the sheriff has directed the deputies, who provide security at the courthouse, not to screen the public with handheld thermometers or ask coronavirus-related questions about possible symptoms. So Vander Sanden recommended the county set up the touchless thermometer system. It's similar to ones in other county buildings, where private security guards check in customers, ask health questions and require them to scan their temperature.
In the other buildings, anyone who shows a fever of 100.4 or higher is not allowed inside, Rogers said. Of course, someone with COVID-19 could be asymptomatic, but this provides an added layer of protection, he noted.
Kellee Cortez, 6th Judicial District court administrator, said the courthouse thermometer will be offered as an option to the public. Those coming in for jury duty will be 'strongly encouraged” to scan their temperatures.
Cortez said the deputies will help guide people on how to use the scanner. Users just need to put their forehead about 6 inches away. The scanner will flash green for no fever or red for a fever of 100.4 or higher.
'I think that this practice, along with our mandatory mask policy, are good things to have in place to mitigate transmission of the virus,” Cortez added.
The courthouse also requires social distancing at all times, including in trials.
Those coming in for jury duty also are asked health questions by court clerks before they can enter.
There have been a few misdemeanor trials that have gone smoothly, court officials said, and jurors haven't said they were unwilling to serve or felt unsafe.
Vander Sanden said he credits the Board of Supervisors for working hard to prevent the spread of the virus. The county has allowed staff members to work remotely at times. He has asked the board to extend the remote work option through the end of December and is hopeful it will do so.
Many prosecutors have worked remotely at times, but Vander Sanden has chosen to remain in the office.
The county attorney's office doesn't have much space to spread out, but that will change by the end of the year, Vander Sanden said.
His office is taking over the law library on the third floor, which has become outdated because all legal materials are available online, and it's being renovated into a conference room and storage area.
'We came to a fork in the road to stay here or move into another building, but we wanted to stay in the building,” he said.
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