Linn County Courthouse closed for the day over suspected coronavirus case

Custodian had symptoms; no test results yet

This #x201c;Closed#x201d; sign was posted Tuesday at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids. (Trish Mehaffey/The Gaz
This “Closed” sign was posted Tuesday at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids. (Trish Mehaffey/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Courthouse closed Tuesday morning after court officials received information that a janitor who worked in the building may have coronavirus.

Kellee Cortez, 6th Judicial District Court administrator, sent an email to employees after 9:30 a.m., stating she and Chief Judge Patrick Grady had been notified about the janitor’s symptoms.

No test results have been completed, but after Grady consulted with Linn County facilities management and government services officials, He decided to send employees home out of caution and cancel all in-person hearings.

The county planned to sanitize the building Tuesday afternoon, according to the email.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said his office was the only one with staff Tuesday afternoon, with cleaning of that office starting after employees go home at 5. The prosecutors and staff are working remotely, with a rotation to work in the office.

Cortez, in the email, said some of the employees would work from home if they have the capability. They plan to reopen the courthouse Wednesday. 

The Linn County Board of Supervisors, in a statement, clarified the county didn’t “take any actions” to close the courthouse Tuesday.

The judicial employees are state employees, and Grady has the overall authority of the court district and its employees, but the courthouse is county property.  

The supervisors also wouldn’t confirm the sanitizing process.

They said, in the statement, that in the event of an exposure, Linn County would follow environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols provided by Linn County Public Health.

The county can’t disclose any personal information about employees, according to the statement. Any confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be investigated by the public health department where the resident lives. As a part of the process, the health department will notify any “potential contacts about their possible exposure.”

“We know COVID-19 is spreading within the community and have been told by the health community to assume that anyone can have COVID-19,” the supervisors said. “We have been following the guidance and precautions of our public health professionals. The health and well-being of the public and our employees remains our highest priority.” 

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