The Department of Homeland Security is opting to shut down a bunch of federal immigration and border agency offices in the Seattle area after an employee who visited a local nursing home where several individuals infected with coronavirus have died has become sick themselves.
This comes in the middle of a surge of cases of the virus here in the United States in places all along the West Coast, New York, Illinois, and Florida just to name a few.
Here’s more from the Washington Examiner:
“Late yesterday, DHS learned that an employee at the @USCIS Seattle Field Office started exhibiting flu-like symptoms four days after visiting the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington that has seen numerous COVID-19 cases,” DHS senior acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli announced in a string of Twitter posts Tuesday. “The employee had been coming to work in the intervening days between the possible exposure (Feb. 22) and becoming ill (Feb. 26). In an effort to contain the threat of potential spread & out of an abundance of caution, the @USCIS Seattle Field Office was ordered closed.”
(1/x) Late yesterday, DHS learned that an employee at the @USCIS Seattle Field Office started exhibiting flu-like symptoms four days after visiting the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington that has seen numerous COVID-19 cases.
— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) March 3, 2020
Cuccinelli said all DHS employees who work out of the Seattle office — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Federal Protective Service — should work from home starting on Tuesday “if they are able.”
The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, has reported four coronavirus-related deaths within the past week, more than any other place in the country. The unnamed employee did not know at the time of the visit that residents there had contracted the virus and has been out of work sick since last Wednesday, according to Cuccinelli.Advertisement - story continues below
“Once it was determined that patients in the facility were diagnosed with coronavirus (my understanding is he learned this from the news), the employee’s family self-quarantined and alerted employers and other relevant officials,” Cuccinelli wrote.
At the time of this writing it’s still unclear as to how many other DHS employees may have been exposed to the virus or whether or not the employee who contracted the illness was still contagious while at work the previous week.
Lots of people are beginning to panic across the country, which is understandable given the severity of the illness, but a lot of the response is out of proportion. In order to stay safe, you must simply exercise common sense. Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. The basics from any sort of cold or flu season.
Here’s to hoping the spread of this virus is brought under control and folks begin to relax and get back to living life.