Temperature checks at Cullman County Courthouse

District Judge Rusty Turner has his temperature checked before heading to work at the Cullman County Courthouse Monday, while Circuit Judge Martha Williams, left, awaits her turn. Under new guidelines set down Monday by the Cullman County Commission, all courthouse visitors and staff are required to pass a temp check and wear face masks as a condition of entering the building. 

Starting today, each visitor who enters the Cullman County Courthouse will have to pass a temperature screening at the door, as well as wear a face mask while in the building’s public areas. 

At a specially-called emergency meeting early Monday, the Cullman County Commission made the changes mandatory, a week after the probate judge’s office on the building’s first floor found that two employees has tested positive for COVID-19.

Under the new guidelines, all visitors will be required to enter through the building’s east door, and each will be greeted by a nurse from the office of local physician Dr. James Thomas, contracted with the commission to provide the service through the county’s workmen compensation coverage.

In addition, each visitor must arrive with his own face mask, and won’t be allowed to enter the building without one. Although Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little handed out county-supplied masks to the long line of people waiting outside for the courthouse doors to open Monday morning, commission chairman Kenneth Walker said it was a one-time-only service; one provided owing to the short notice. After today, face masks will not be provided by the county. 

Department heads, judges, and elected leaders who manage staff inside the building attended Monday’s 7 a.m. outdoor meeting, and commissioners said they’re leaving it up to each department head to determine whether visitors must continue to wear face masks once they reach their in-office destinations. But, they added, the masks must be worn throughout the building’s hallways, stairwells, waiting areas, and other public spaces. Any employee or visitor who leaves the building and returns later on the same day must go through the temperature check upon each new visit.

The commission shut down the courthouse Friday for a full sanitization, following two positive COVID-19 tests last week among the staff at the probate judge’s office. Probate Judge Tammy Brown said Monday that both staff members so far have appeared to show no signs of illness as they wait out the infection from home. 

The new requirements will remain in place at least through early July, when the commission will assess the ongoing need for the precautions at its July 3 regular meeting. 

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