The Seattle U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) Field Office is closed Tuesday, March 3, after a staff member is being tested for COVID-19, the coronavirus outbreak impacting King County.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli tweeted about the closure Tuesday. He states that late on Monday, March 2, he learned of an employee exhibiting flu-like symptoms four days after visiting Life Care Center in Kirkland. That center has more than 50 people ill with respiratory issues and several positive cases of the 2019 coronavirus.
The employee went to work after the visit to Kirkland on Feb. 22, before it was known residents there were contracting the virus, Cuccinelli stated. They continued to work until becoming ill on Feb. 26. Once feeling ill, the staff member stayed home. The Seattle Times reported that DHS will be closing the office for 14 days.
Employees at USCIS Field Office, 12500 International Blvd. in Tukwila, are being asked to work from home if they are able. Cuccinelli stated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection, and Federal Protective Service personnel were also working out of the Seattle Field Office and asked to telework.
DHS is asking all employees and applicants who intended to visit the office to stay home if feeling ill or exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The USCIS website asks that anyone who becomes ill reschedule their appointments for when they are healthy, even if they have not been exposed to the virus. Symptoms include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat or fever. The website states that people can reschedule appointments for this reason without penalty, following the instructions on their appointment notice.
For more information on symptoms and prevention of spreading COVID-19, visit kingcounty.gov/COVID.