Transportation sends all headquarters employees home due to coronavirus case

The Transportation Department has sent all federal employees home from its headquarters in Washington, D.C., as its first confirmed employee has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Transportation learned of the employee’s diagnosis on Wednesday, the department said Thursday morning in an email to employees.

“We will do everything possible to ensure a safe work environment for all employees,” the message reads. “Effective immediately and until further notice, we are mandating that all employees not report to duty at the DoT headquarters unless specifically notified by your manager. Employees who are eligible to telework should do so.”

These instructions only apply to Transportation’s Navy Yard facility in Washington, a department spokesman said in an email to Federal News Network.

The employee works on the third floor of Transportation’s “west building,” the department said. The employee has self-quarantined, is receiving medical treatment and hasn’t been in the office since last Thursday.

Transportation will contact employees who may have worked closely with the individual, the department said.

Another email sent to Transportation headquarters employees Thursday afternoon included contact information for its employee assistance program. Employees can also direct their questions to a specific coronavirus-related inbox.

“We understand that this is a stressful time for you and your families,” the Thursday afternoon email reads. “We know that employees have concerns and we are taking all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our workforce.  We are following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget. The General Services Administration (GSA) is already on-site and doing a thorough cleaning of the impacted area. We ask that you continue to telework to the maximum extent possible and follow social distancing guidelines.”

Several federal employees now have tested positive for the coronavirus.

An Agriculture Department employee in Washington has also tested positive for the virus, the agency said Sunday night. USDA closed and cleaned a portion of the building where the employee worked, but the rest of the facility remained open and functional to the workforce.

At least a handful of officers at the Transportation Security Administration have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Department of Homeland Security ordered the closure of one of its facilities in Washington state, where an employee in the area had also tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

The Securities and Exchange Commission was the first agency in Washington to send its workforce home as one of its employees was being tested for the coronavirus. Much of the SEC has since begun teleworking since last week.

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