CDC reports first employee diagnosed with coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday reported that an agency employee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the first known infection among its staff.
The CDC said that the employee has not been involved in the agency’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and that the person has not been in the workplace since March 6, when they were not showing any symptoms of the disease. Lab testing at the CDC confirmed the diagnosis, the agency said.
“This individual is in good condition and is isolated to prevent spread of infection to others,” the CDC said in a statement, adding that staff who worked in the same unit as the individual are now teleworking as the office undergoes a deep cleaning.
The CDC has been helping to lead the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China and has since infected nearly 200,000 around the world. The U.S. had confirmed more than 4,000 cases of the coronavirus as of Monday evening, according to The New York Times, and the disease has accounted for at least 73 deaths in the country.
The outbreak has led state and federal officials in the U.S. to implement measures designed to prevent mass gatherings and slow the disease’s spread. The CDC has urged halting in-person events that surpass 50 people for the next eight weeks.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters last week that more than 1,500 people have worked on the agency’s response to the virus outbreak and that none of them had tested positive for it.
“We take the health and safety of our employees very seriously. CDC is an essential component of the U.S. critical infrastructure on this response. To date no one in CDC’s workforce has tested positive for COVID-19,” she said.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced on Sunday its first known case of an employee contracting the coronavirus. The agency said the development was “not surprising” and that it expects there will be more cases of infection among NIH staff.