September 22, 2021

5 COVID-19 cases reported from Will County Courthouse: health official

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Health officials reported five staff members at the Will County Courthouse tested positive for COVID-19 but there has been no further information on current cases from either court or sheriff officials thus far this week.

As of Monday, there have been four correctional officers and five courthouse staff members who tested positive for COVID-19, according to Steve Brandy, Will County Health Department spokesman. He did not have information on their specific positions.

“The courthouse covers all areas (judges, administration, interpretation, bailiffs etc.), excluding circuit court and sheriff’s department,” Brandy said. “The cases were reported from courthouse. We don’t have any details of which area of the courthouse the five positive cases are from.”

Brandy said that information was provided to him from the county health epidemiology department.

It’s unclear if any more correctional officers at the courthouse have tested positive for COVID-19 or if any judges, bailiffs or clerks have also tested positive. Will County sheriff spokeswoman Kathy Hoffmeyer has not responded to messages and calls since Monday. Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt has also not responded to calls to his office.

Last week, Hoffmeyer said four correctional officers who worked in the court holding area in the basement of the building tested positive for the virus. The sheriff's office was made aware one of the officers was positive for COVID-19 early morning on Nov. 6, she said.

On the same day, the court holding area, which holds inmates from the Will County jail, was shut down and more than 15 correctional officers and other staff who worked in that area were sent home to quarantine and test for the virus, she said.

Hoffmeyer said no more inmates would be taken to the court holding area for two weeks.

A jury trial for Andy Cerros, 20, who faces triple murder charges, was scheduled to begin Monday but his case was moved to Thursday afternoon because no custodies are being brought over to the courthouse.

In response to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases, the Will County office building and the county clerk and recorder offices were closed to the public on Monday. Joliet City Hall was also closed to the public Friday.

Gov. JB Pritzker has announced restrictions that include closing casinos and limiting capacity at retail stores, health and fitness centers. He said at a news conference on Wednesday that COVID-19 is "back with a vengeance."

“There’s a significant increase in the number of people losing their lives to COVID-19 amidst this current surge,” he said.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News