An employee working in Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office was put in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first congressional staffer hit by the virus.
“The individual has been in isolation since starting to have symptoms,” said a statement from Cantwell’s office, the DailyWire reported.
“On the advice of the attending physician, the senator has closed her Washington, D.C., office this week for deep cleaning and staff will be teleworking,” the statement continued.
The announcement came hours after the House and Senate decided to severely limit Capitol Hill to the public until April 1 in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Thursday, March 12, the House and Senate sergeants at arms said that the Capitol Visitor Center will be closed to all tours, starting from Thursday evening, The Associated Press reported.
Lawmakers’ offices will be required to meet any official visitors at building entrances, and they were asked to escort them out after the meetings. Only lawmakers, staff, journalists and visitors with official business will be permitted to enter the buildings.
“We are taking this temporary action out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public. We appreciate the understanding of those with planned visits interrupted by this necessary but prudent decision,” the officials wrote.
The coronavirus outbreak is possibly hitting the federal workers in the D.C. area. A Justice Department employee is self-quarantining after exhibiting signs of the coronavirus, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has found a suspected coronavirus case.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday officially announced the coronavirus outbreak is a global pandemic, a few months after it first broke out in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
President Donald Trump on the same day announced new emergency measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, with a travel ban that suspends all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.