The rapidly spreading coronavirus has infected an employee working in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) office, which marks the first publicly known case of a congressional staffer with the coronavirus, which originated in China.
“The individual has been in isolation since starting to have symptoms,” a statement from Cantwell’s office said. “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 continued, “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 announcement comes hours after House and Senate leaders agreed to severely restrict public access to Capitol Hill, with all public tours canceled until at least the end of March.
It also comes as the coronavirus continues to spread in the D.C. area and possibly to federal workers. A Justice Department employee in the DOJ’s civil division has exhibited signs of the coronavirus and is self-quarantining, according to an internal e-mail, and the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week sent employees home to work because of a suspected coronavirus case.
The news comes after President Donald Trump announced new emergency measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus and to limit the economic fallout from the virus.
“After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” Trump said. “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at mid-night.”
“To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus,” Trump continued. “I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.”
“To provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus,” Trump continued. “Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.”
“Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy,” Trump added. “Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.”
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