Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon told employees in Seattle to stay home yesterday as novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the Emerald City.
Microsoft said that "all employees who are in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25." People who have to work from the company's offices are encouraged to come in, however, unless they meet these criteria:
- Are over 60
- Have an underlying health condition (heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
- Are immune system compromised
- Are pregnant
The company advised people who do come into the office to take certain precautions, such as staying at least 6 feet away from other people, keeping in-person meetings as short as possible and not going to work if they feel sick.
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Microsoft's decision arrived shortly after King County officials released new recommendations for handling COVID-19 after 10 more people were diagnosed with it. More information about the recommendations are available here.
Facebook closed its Seattle office entirely after a contractor was diagnosed with COVID-19. It currently plans to re-open the office on March 9; presumably it will use the intervening days to make a sanitation sweep of the entire work floor.
Amazon followed Microsoft in advising employees who can work from home to do so. It's being a bit more cautious, however, in extending the work-from-home period until March 31 (likely because one Amazon employee already contracted COVID-19).