Things are starting to get very, very serious with the coronavirus.
The NBA has cancelled its season, colleges and schools are closing for a period of time, and events across the country are either cancelling or refusing to allow a live audience in the studio to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
Now, the U.S. Capitol is closing down after a Senate has the virus.
A staffer who works in Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell’s D.C. office has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The announcement marks the first known instance of a congressional staffer getting the virus and follows days of heightened anxiety on Capitol Hill.
The staffer, according to a notice from Cantwell’s office, has been isolated since they started to have symptoms. Cantwell is closing her D.C. office for the remainder of the week for a deep cleaning.
“The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 has had no known contact with the senator or other members of Congress. The senator is requesting that testing be done on any other staffers who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms,” the notice continues.
The House and Senate sergeants-at-ams are also preparing to announce the suspension of all tours in the Capitol in an effort to limit the potential spread of the virus on the hill.
“The two sergeant at arms … are preparing to announce that they will stop tours of the Capitol due to the coronavirus,” a source told The Hill. Leadership has been under growing pressure to act, particularly given the advanced age of most lawmakers.
Older adults, especially those with existing medical conditions, are the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans older than 60 to avoid crowds—something that has been impossible in the Capitol in recent days.
Several lawmakers have self-quarantined after interacting with individuals who have the coronavirus, but none have tested positive.
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