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General Order Regarding COVID-19 Screening

Monday, March 16, 2020

The court is issuing this general order in response to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States of America, and specifically in the State of Wisconsin and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The Governor of the State of Wisconsin has declared a public health emergency in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and other public health agencies have advised public and private entities to take precautions in order to reduce the spread of the virus. This court has considered guidance from a variety of sources including the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local public health authorities. It recognizes the need to take measures to effectuate these goals, while also continuing to fulfill its mission and keep both its civil and criminal court operations functioning. 

Based on the information available to date, including the estimated number of persons infected currently with COVID-19 and the number of cases projected to occur in the immediate future, the court makes the following findings: 

1.) Current court operations present substantial health risks to the public. 

2.) It is not possible to summon a pool of potential jurors and conduct a jury trial in a manner that does not expose potential jurors, counsel, court staff and litigants to substantial and unacceptable health risks, specifically, the danger of becoming infected with COVID-19. 

3.) Such risks may be significantly mitigated by temporarily modifying court operations; and 

4.) Good cause exists to implement temporary changes to court procedures. 

Based on these findings, the court ORDERS the following: 

United States Marshal Service (“USMS”) law enforcement personnel and USMS-deputized contract court security officers shall deny building access to individuals who may be infected with COVID-19 or otherwise appear to pose a public health risk. All persons seeking to enter courthouses within the Eastern District of Wisconsin will be required to answer the following questions: 

  • Are you experiencing symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath? 
  • Have you been in close contact with someone confirmed or who is being evaluated for COVID-19? 
  • Have you recently visited an area that is subject to quarantine because of COVID-19 infection? 

Persons who answer “yes” to any of the above questions will be denied courthouse access. Persons who exhibit symptoms of illness potentially indicating COVID-19 infection will be denied access. USMS law enforcement personnel and USMS-deputized court security officers have the authority to deny courthouse access to persons who otherwise reasonably appear to present a health risk. Those denied access will be provided information regarding the appropriate individual or entity to contact.

Dated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this 16th day of March, 2020.

[Link to General Order]