Health officials close courtroom, quarantine newlyweds after positive COVID-19 test result

CARLINVILLE, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Circuit Court Judge Ken Deihl gave a groom the signal to kiss the bride in a wedding on Friday. Days later, she tested positive for COVID-19.

Macoupin County Public Health Director Christy Blank said her staff interviewed the woman after the lab results showed she had tested positive. Blank would not confirm the identity of the infected patient, and declined to comment when asked about the wedding ceremony.

In the process of contact tracing, public health staff reviewed video footage at the courthouse that revealed the infected patient had come into close contact with several people while on the premises.

Health officials abruptly closed the courthouse to the public in order to conduct a deep cleaning on Thursday. Anxious staff who were on site for the ceremony are now undergoing testing. In lieu of a honeymoon, the newlyweds were ordered into a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“Three employees at the Macoupin County Courthouse in Carlinville were exposed to and came in close contact with a person who has since tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19),” the county public health department confirmed in a press release on Thursday afternoon. Those three employees have not tested positive at this time, but are also now under a 14-day quarantine.

Blank said she hoped the court would re-open to the public for limited services on Friday. She said her department also re-educated courthouse staff about the risks involved with the Coronavirus, and instructed them to wear masks and provide hand sanitizer for themselves and the public.

Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan said, “We’re probably going to restrict public access until we can install Plexiglass,” but noted that his office has already started allowing the public to submit electronic forms online to help them avoid coming into the building in person. Duncan said the foot traffic at the courthouse has been drastically reduced down to an average of just 10 people per day in April, compared to a range of 150 to 200 per day in March.

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Judge Deihl said he was “not allowed to talk to reporters.” Citing privacy concerns, the health department declined to identify the married couple or to comment on the status of their health.

According to daily news releases posted to the Macoupin County Public Health Department’s Facebook page, the newest confirmed cases of COVID-19 are two women in their thirties and one woman in her forties.

In their press release, the county health department said, “Anyone entering the building is screened by Court Security and is required to wear a mask inside the building. Anyone wishing to enter the building is reminded if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they should not come to the Courthouse.”