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COVID Outbreak Hits Imperial County Superior Court

Six Individuals Test Positive In 14-Day Window; Services Likely to Be Unaffected

EL CENTRO — A COVID outbreak at the Imperial County Superior Court involving six positive individuals over the past 14 days likely won’t impact court services as operations resume Monday, Jan. 3, a court official said.

The court went into outbreak status on Thursday, Dec. 30, based on workplace procedures defined by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and by the afternoon, the court had contracted with Dr. Tien Vo’s office to test some 49 employees and contractors across “impacted departments,” said Laura Flores, director of human resources at the court.

Although Flores declined to be specific about the number of departments affected, she added that a few contractors can comprise a department on their own.

Three court staffers tested positive, and three court contractors tested positive, Flores said. Between El Centro, Brawley and Winterhaven, there are around 115 court employees, and about 20 contractors.

Flores said operations were not affected on Thursday, and it’s not likely anything would be affected moving forward. The court was to be closed on Friday, Dec. 31, in observance of New Year’s Day since it falls on a weekend.

“If we get to a point where there is too many staff out where we cannot actually man either the offices or the courtrooms, which, quite honestly, we worked on skeletal staffing before and we’ve managed, I don’t expect or anticipate that we will get to that point,” she said. “But what would really determine and drive that is if we have the majority of our staff out due to COVID.”

Flores said what the public might notice next week is the court will have its COVID messaging “signage and everything out in our hallways and in departments, so tighter enforcement on that. We’ve been enforcing it, but there might be tighter enforcement on that.”

“If staff see members of the public not wearing their mask appropriately, they might point that out to them and ask them to please wear their masks appropriately while in our building, and things like that,” she said.

As for the testing regimen, the priority is on the 49 in the affected areas, she said, but after they are tested, employees in other areas of the court who might be concerned can be tested. Flores said most of the 49 were tested on site by the end of the business day on Thursday, but the few who left early or who were out of the office due to absence or vacation days will be tested next week.