Judge bars US prosecutor from entering Guam court over virus

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A federal judge issued a ruling prohibiting a U.S. prosecutor from entering a district courthouse in Guam because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

Federal Public Defender John Gorman requested that U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson be barred from entering the court in Hagatna, Pacific Daily News reported Monday.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered that anyone who has traveled outside of Guam over the previous 14 days should not be allowed in the courthouse.

Gorman said Anderson recently returned to the U.S. territory from a vacation trip to Thailand, which the judge's ruling noted Anderson did not deny.

"He has by now, gone into the U.S. Attorneys office and/or met with various U.S. Attorneys staff. He has willfully broken the quarantine and potentially infected that entire office," Gorman wrote in his request.

Anderson did not have contact with any staff members and was prepared to work remotely, he said, adding that he did not travel to a “high-risk country” and does not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.

Guam had 29 confirmed cases of the virus and one death as of Monday, officials said.

The judge denied Gorman's request that Anderson's staff be banned from the court building, where the U.S. attorney's office is located.

“There is no legal or medical basis to quarantine our entire staff," Anderson wrote in response to the request. “No USAO employee has had personal contact with me since my return to Guam.”

The judge also placed a court prohibition on people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, those who have had contact with an infected person, people who have flu-like symptoms and anyone who has been asked to self-quarantine.