(CNSNews.com) - Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf began his congressional testimony on Tuesday with an announcement:
The DHS office in King County, Washington, is closed for two weeks, after an employee apparently contracted coronavirus after visiting a relative at the Life Care nursing facility, which is experiencing a deadly coronavirus outbreak.
"Late last night, the Department was made aware of a situation involving a DHS employee," Wolf told the House Homeland Security Committee:
Out of an abundance of caution, following recommended procedure, I ordered a DHS facility in King County, Washington State, to close, beginning today; directed those employees to telework, if possible, in order to reduce the threat of community spread of the coronavirus.
At this time, the affected offices will remain closed 14 days, and all employees have been directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
We made this decision to close the offices because an employee had visited a family member at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, Washington, before it was known that that facility was impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Though the employee did not report to work when they felt ill, we are taking these steps, again, out of an abundance of caution.
I'm pleased to report this employee embodied what it means to lead by example. The employee and their family took every precaution in following the guidance of public health officials. They stayed home from work when they felt ill. The family self-quarantined and reported the exposure and their condition to their employers and other officials.
Wolf said he and others at DHS are praying for the employee and all others affected by the illness.
Wolf also said a rapid response team at DHS headquarters is now working with CDC and state and local officials on further guidance regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 100 cases of coronavirus, total, are now reported in at least 15 states, and at least six people have died.
Officials say the virus may have spread in Washington State for weeks before it was detected. Washington now counts at least 18 confirmed cases.