COVINGTON — An emergency order has been issued closing judicial buildings after several judges and staff members working regularly in the Newton and Walton county courthouses tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the order, signed Wednesday by Chief Superior Court Judge John Ott, the closure will also give the court system time to assess judicial resources following the sudden death of Judge Horace Johnson on Wednesday morning.
Under Ott’s order, the Newton County Judicial Center closed at noon on Wednesday and will remain closed through Tuesday, July 14, reopening on Wednesday, July 15 at 8 a.m.
In addition, the following county facilities closed at noon on Wednesday and were set to remain closed on Thursday: the Public Defenders Office, Administration Building, Historic Courthouse and Public Works building. The buildings will be closed Friday as it is a county holiday.
According to the county, the National Guard will be conducting a thorough deep cleaning of the Board of Commissioners office buildings and Judicial Center. The office buildings are expected to reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 6, but the Judicial Center will remain closed until July 15.
Under Ott’s order, the courts will remain “minimally open” to address essential functions, with priority given to matters necessary to protect health, safety and liberty of individuals. A Sheriff’s Office deputy will be posted inside the front door of the Judicial Center to handle inquiries and direct people to the appropriate authority or office.