In all, according to Fox News, there have been 31 cases of the virus in the county and nine deaths. Health officials are also advising all residents over the age of 60 to remain indoors because they are more vulnerable to succumbing to the disease if they contract it because of their age.
While not an order, King County health officials recommended to employers that they allow their employees to work from home if possible to reduce face-to-face contact and hopefully curb the spread of the virus during this “critical period.”
“We are encouraging employers to maximize telecommuting and to make it possible for employees who can work from home to do so," King County Executive Dow Constantine said Wednesday. "Community groups should avoid creating large gatherings.”
In addition to people over 60, health officials also recommended that anyone with an underlying health condition and/or weakened immune system, as well as women who are pregnant, stay at home and avoid large gatherings “as much as possible.”
Already, the region’s technology giants have adopted measures to protect employees after two workers, one each from Amazon and Facebook, tested positive for coronavirus.
An employee who works in Amazon’s “Brazil” office left work Feb. 24 with symptoms; the employee later tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email advising employees.
Facebook has also alerted its workers about an infected employee, last in their Stadium East office on Feb. 21. That office closed and will remain shuttered until March 9. Employees were urged to work from home until the end of the month, Fox News added.
Another big tech firm, Microsoft, is also taking measures aimed at protecting its roughly 50,000 workers in the Seattle area. Company officials have asked employees to work from home until March 25 to comply with guidance from King County health officials.
County health officials have not yet recommended school closures, but nevertheless one district, Northshore, announced last week its campuses would be shuttered for up to two weeks. The decision came after a parent or volunteer at Woodmoor Elementary School tested “presumptively positive” for the virus, according to a letter the district sent to parents.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide coronavirus emergency, according to The New York Times’ website, as the number of cases in the state rose to 89. The infected include a Queens Uber driver and a pair of unexplained tests of patients 200 miles to the north of the Big Apple. (Related: Birthplace of Jesus now closed due to coronavirus.)
The Times added:
The governor’s announcement came as concerns about the outbreak grew in New York City, which has 12 confirmed cases, up from six that were disclosed as of Friday. The epicenter in New York State continues to be just north of the city, in Westchester County, where there are 70 cases in total.
“You know what’s worse than the virus — the anxiety,” said Cuomo, who added that most patients would suffer either mild symptoms or none at all.
And The Hill reported that public health experts are warning that Americans should prepare for major disruptions and an infection rate of as many as 100,000.
“Public health entities have not been in the situation to make large-scale population-level decisions for about 100 years. The last time a health department was asked, ‘Should we quarantine your entire city or not,’ was 1918, Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, told The Hill, in reference to the Spanish Flu outbreak that killed tens of millions around the world.