As the Rome Circuit Public Defender’s Office reopens, staff are taking more precautions after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee continues to remain in quarantine, but the majority of staff have returned to the office with negative tests. Over the weekend, the offices at 12 E. Fourth Ave. were sanitized before the staff returned.
Rome Circuit Public Defender Sean Lowe described the office’s priority as “providing zealous and client-centered representation, while minimizing COVID-19 related health concerns.”
The office will begin using a rotating schedule during office hours, with two attorneys and one administrative assistant always in the office. The remaining staff have been provided with computers to work remotely from home. All staff can be contacted through email or by calling the office at 706-234-0975.
Many of the office’s attorneys call in to the Floyd County Superior Court for matters such as bonding cases. When they go into the courthouse again, all of the staff are instructed to wear personal protective equipment, Lowe said.
The clerk’s office is still missing half its staff but working very hard to get things back to normal, Floyd County Clerk of Court Barbara Penson said.
Floyd County Superior Court — at 3 Government Plaza — reopened last week following a two-week quarantine for employees. Several staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and the only way for other staff members to return was to test negative twice.
Gov. Brian Kemp extended the Public Health State of Emergency on Monday through Aug. 11. The statewide judicial emergency order, issued by Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton on March 14, was extended through July 14.
Clear partitions were installed between work stations over the weekend and the office is only allowing two people at a time into the offices. However, Penson believes many people are using the office’s online services instead.
By next week, the clerk hopes to have almost all of her staff back in the office.