Attorney Jacqueline Calderin is taking no chances.
The managing partner of Coral Gables-based Agentis PLLC is on the fifth day of her two-week self-quarantine, following a court notice that suggested she might have been exposed to the coronavirus in a Florida courtroom.
Calderin had traveled from Miami-Dade to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on North Hogan Street in Jacksonville. She later received an email from the court, disclosing that someone who had been in the same courtroom that day had been exposed to a resident from a nursing home where residents had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“My immediate reaction was ‘Oh damn!’ ” Calderin said. “ That is the first thought that went through my head. I was considering curtailing my social activities anyway, but that … made me do it right away. I said to myself, ‘I will just hunker down, and hang out at home.’ ”
The attorney took immediate steps to protect her family and colleagues.
“It was sort of a feeling of helplessness,” she said. “I have an elderly mother whose immune system is compromised, and who I could not see now. My sister and aunt are helping out, and I just won’t go there. I also told my son, whose college classes ended early, not to come home.”
Her precautions come just as Miami-Dade court officials announced that a sick court employee who worked with Judge Diana Gonzalez-Whyte’s civil courtroom was in self-quarantine and in the process of getting tested for the virus.
On Thursday, Miami-Dade courts issued a health advisory to anyone who had appeared in two criminal divisions March 11 and 12, after that court employee became ill with flu-like symptoms. As a precautionary measure, court officials advised people who appeared in the courtrooms of Circuit Judge Miguel de la O and Gina Beovides to monitor themselves for two weeks for virus symptoms.
Related story: Miami-Dade Civil Court Employee Tested for Coronavirus
Calderin was already considering having her 19-person firm shift to telecommuting, but the court notices cemented that decision.
The firm’s attorneys—who work in real estate, bankruptcy and commercial litigation—began working from home Monday. They’ve been having daily meetings by phone, and Calderin does not expect the short-term measure to affect the bottom line. She noted the firm expects to get more bankruptcy business resulting from an economic downturn amid coronavirus fears.
“I’ve been talking a lot to my colleagues on the phone,” she said. “We have meetings everyday by phone.”
For Calderin, it’s meant catching up on work, household chores, spending quality time with her dog—and adjusting to a new schedule.
“I’m going a little stir crazy,” she said. ”I’m working on a Chapter 11 case now for a client. I am also cooking every night, which is not something I normally do on the weekdays. I’m also doing my own laundry. I told my housekeeper not to come because of my situation.”
The attorney said she’s being careful in an effort to protect her community.
“Everyone in the neighborhood walks and is outside,” she said. “I’ll only go outside if no one is around.”