King County officials are strongly urging employees to telecommute in an attempt to contain the coronavirus.
Thirty-nine cases of the virus, known as COVID-19, have been reported in Washington state. Ten people have died.
“If employees can work from home they should do so,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine during a press conference. “We are not recommending that schools be closed.”
Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said school closures “can be destructive and costly to families,” and that children so far haven’t been affected by the virus. “We know when schools are closed children will go to other places.”
Constantine urged organizations to cancel or postpone gatherings of more than 10 people. “All essential King County large group meetings will be canceled through the end of March,” he said.
The county will assess its plans weekly “to see if these measures need to be adjusted,” he said.
The county also advised that people over 60 with underlying health conditions and pregnant women remain home.
Many businesses are already reacting to the virus. Earlier this week, Weyerhaeuser said it would close its Seattle headquarters for at least a week as a precaution, and F5 Networks closed its Seattle office tower Monday for cleaning after an employee had come into contact with an individual who had tested positive for the virus.
Delta Airlines today announced the cancellation of its seasonal summer flight service from Seattle to Osaka, Japan, because of safety concerns and reduced demand.