First two Cook County judges test positive for COVID-19

A pair of Cook County judges have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first cases of the coronavirus in judges of the Circuit Court, officials announced Thursday.

Both work at the 5th Municipal District in Bridgeview, according to Pat Milhizer, spokesman for the Office of the Chief Judge.

They are among a total of 39 employees of the Office of the Chief Judge who have tested positive for the coronavirus, Milhizer said.

The announcement comes on the day Chief Judge Timothy Evans is expected to sign an order extending COVID-19 precautions in the Circuit Court into July. Most day-to-day court operations ceased when Evans’ initial order went into effect March 17.

An early draft of Thursday’s order obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows Evans considered partially reopening the court with some in-person hearings by mid-June.

But Evans scraped that plan and decided to extend the order into July “to allow enough time for all justice system stakeholders to ensure that more proceedings will be conducted in a way that protects everybody,” Milhizer said Wednesday in a statement.

Milhizer on Thursday also announced two additional COVID-19 cases in the Office of the Chief Judge: a resident at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center on the Near West Side, and an employee of the adult probation department in the 2nd Municipal District in Skokie.

There are now 15 residents of the juvenile detention center who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Last week, the juvenile detention center detected its first cases of COVID-19 in its general population. Until then, cases had been limited to quarantine units reserved for new residents.