December 16, 2021

St. Joseph County judges require masks in courthouses

One of the St. Joseph County Courthouses - Justin Hicks/IPB News

One of the St. Joseph County Courthouses

Justin Hicks/IPB News

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana county's judges have reinstated an order requiring people to wear masks in four courthouses because of the county’s rising COVID-19 infection rates.

The order applies to the three St. Joseph County courthouses in downtown South Bend and one in Mishawaka. Chief Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley told the South Bend Tribune she made the call with Circuit Judge John Broden after consulting with the county’s other Superior Court judges. The order took effect Monday.

In addition to mandatory mask wearing, signs have been posted on the buildings saying that access to court facilities is limited to attorneys and parties required to attend emergency, in-person hearings and individuals seeking emergency protection orders. The signs also say that no visitors or children are allowed in the courtrooms.

The county's judges suspended trials and most in-person hearings in March 2020 and extended the order through November 2020. Trials resumed in March 2021.

As of Monday, the county had 571.3 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days, with 16% testing positivity over those seven days.

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