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Judiciary refuses union demands to close down Wabash court over positive COVID-19 cases

Posted at 10:11 AM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 10:11:53-04

BALTIMORE — The Wabash District Courthouse will not temporarily close despite demands from a union representing judiciary employees.

On Tuesday, two local AFSCME councils wrote a list of ten demands addressed to Maryland's top judges after five Wabash courthouse employees reportedly became infected with COVID-19.

Among the demands was that Wabash be closed for 72 hours to undergo a deep cleaning.

The union also demanded that staff be placed on alternating shifts and that all non-criminal court hearings either be postponed or held remotely.

Other demands included the installation of Plexiglas between workers and less public access to the clerk's office.

They also demanded that all employees be notified of any positive cases within the courthouse.

The union accused the courts of failing to conduct basic health screenings and enforce mask wearing on visitors entering the building.

In their response, the judiciary disputed the union's claims.

"The Maryland Judiciary has as its top priority the health and safety of its employees, judges, our justice partners, and the public during the coronavirus pandemic," said Terri Charles, Assistant Public Information Officer. "Many precautions have been taken to provide a clean environment, including providing hand sanitizer, masks, shields, practicing social distancing, temperature checks and COVID-19 health screening questions at the courthouse entrance, and the installation of plexiglass in the courtrooms, clerks offices, and at the information desk."

While confirming the five positive cases among Wabash employees, the court says each was quarantined and that all employees were notified with proper contact tracing completed.

READ MORE: Maryland state courts close to the public beginning March 16 due to coronavirus

The courts are already playing catch-up after being forced to close for months due to the pandemic, which caused many cases to be postponed and rescheduled.