Thursday the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that an employee working at the department’s Tumwater campus has tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee was last at work Friday, March 6, and had no symptoms. Over the weekend, they began feeling unwell and followed up with their doctor. They took immediate action to isolate themselves, which drastically reduced exposure to others.
The employee will remain at home away from others until they recover. DOH leadership will stay in touch throughout the recovery process to make sure they get the care they need.
The employee and DOH leadership are working with Thurston County Public Health and Social Services on contact tracing. Thurston County is in touch with about 10 DOH employees who were considered to be close contacts. Anyone determined to have had close contact will be asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. DOH has also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the few places the employee worked last week.
DOH has been preparing for the possibility that employees might test positive for COVID-19 or need to self-quarantine since the beginning of the response. The department will continue to follow its own guidance for employers and take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including increasing routine cleaning and encouraging staff who can work remotely to do so.
DOH notified its employees of the situation this morning and provided resources on COVID-19 and mental health resources available for employees. DOH is asking employees and others to practice compassion and respect for the privacy of this employee and others who may be self-quarantined.