Senator Shuts Office After First Case of Coronavirus on Capitol Hill

March 12, 2020 Updated: March 12, 2020

A congressional staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first known case on Capitol Hill, CNN reported.

The unidentified patient works out of Cantwell’s Washington, D.C. office, and has been in isolation since the person started displaying symptoms, according to a statement published on March 11.

“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 said.

“The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 has had no known contact with the senator or other members of Congress,” it added.

Cantwell, who represents Washington state, has requested other staffers who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms to get tested in light of the positive results.

The confirmation comes shortly after President Donald Trump announced late Wednesday that the United States will impose a 30-day travel ban on travelers from Europe. The ban will come into effect on Friday at midnight and excludes the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as returning Americans who have had “appropriate screenings” for the virus.

Trump signed a proclamation that suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in countries in Europe’s Schengen Area within 14 days of their scheduled arrival to the United States.

President Trump Signs Emergency Coronavirus Funding Bill
President Donald Trump answers questions at the White House in Washington on March 6, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The president also said that the government is providing $8.3 billion to “support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies” as well as fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies as they combat the virus.

He also announced that low-interest loans are available to small businesses to help them “overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus.”

“I am instructing the Small Business Administration [SBA] to exercise available authorities to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus. Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories,” he said.

The president added that he will soon be asking Congress to take emergency action to provide financial relief for “workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.”

Also on Wednesday, the NBA issued a statement confirming that all games will be suspended until further notice after a Utah Jazz player, reportedly Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Epoch Times Photo
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during the third quarter during an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has also been postponed for the first time in its 258-year history.

“While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts, and I applaud the parade’s leadership for working cooperatively with us,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement after initially recommending to the parade organizers that it should not be held.

“While the risk to New Yorkers remains low and we want to avoid social and economic disruptions, we have an obligation to take action to contain the spread of this virus,” he added.

As of late Wednesday, the death toll in the United States stood at 37, while known cases of the virus have exceeded 1,200.

Mimi Nguyen Ly and Melanie Sun contributed to this report.