Chippewa County court system faces COVID problem

Chippewa County court system faces COVID problem

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Several workers in the Chippewa County court system have been placed in quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns, causing a disruption in the court calendar for the next two weeks.

Angela Weideman, Chippewa County public health director, couldn’t divulge the names of employees or say how many workers are out. It also is unclear how long they will not be at work. She also wouldn’t say whether anyone has tested positive for the virus or if this is just a precautionary measure.

“There has been an exposure with the court system in Chippewa County,” Weideman said. “The health department has been working diligently with the court system. Everyone is working to protect the public. People are working with us and following recommendations. The county is making sure we aren’t putting people in higher-risk situations.”

Chippewa County has three circuit court judges. Judge Steve Gibbs was in his courtroom on Tuesday handling cases; Judges Steve Cray and James Isaacson were not in court either Monday or Tuesday although they both had scheduled cases. Neither could be reached for comment.

“My courtroom reporter and I are handling as many possible hearings as we can, and we ask everyone to understand and be patient,” Gibbs said Tuesday afternoon. He declined to comment further.

The public health department issued a press release Tuesday evening, saying the court calendar “may be impacted for the coming weeks.” Any jury trials set for the next few weeks will not take place, the press release states.

Anyone who had a court hearing slated before Cray and Isaacson through July 13 is asked to contact the judicial assistant to determine whether the matter will be heard before GIbbs, moved to a remote appearance, heard by the court commissioner or rescheduled for a future date.

Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell declined to divulge any details about the situation.

“The district attorney’s office is operational and will continue to do our job, like we have throughout the pandemic,” Newell said.

One of the employees who has been quarantined was reached, but he declined to comment until he had spoken with his supervisor.

Chippewa County now has 89 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up four in the past day. However, 71 have been released from isolation. No one in the county has died from coronavirus.

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