Amazon, Facebook encouraging Seattle-based employees to work from home amid COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 9:59 AM, Mar 05, 2020

Large tech companies with offices in Seattle are encouraging employees to work from home in the days ahead in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus, the Seattle Times and CNN report.

Amazon and Facebook are both allowing employees to work from home through the end of March after both companies confirmed that employees in the Seattle area contracted the disease.

According to CNN, a Facebook contractor who worked at the facility tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Amazon announced Tuesday that an employee based in its offices in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19.

The Facebook contractor last visited the company's offices on Feb. 21, but Facebook has closed its Seattle office for the rest of the week.

In a statement emailed to the Seattle Times, Amazon now says any of its employees that work in a job "that can be done from home" can do so through March. The guidance appears to be a change from policy set earlier this week that said that employees could work with their managers to arrange work from home opportunities "when possible," the Times reports.

In addition to Amazon and Facebook, tech giant Microsoft also says employees that can work from home should do so through March 25.

"Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite," Microsoft Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Operation Kurt DelBene said in a blog post on the company's website.

Microsoft is also recommending that any employees that are over 60, have underlying health issues, have compromised immune systems or are pregnant should speak to their managers to determine leave accommodations.

Washington is the state that's been hit hardest by COVD-19 since the outbreak began earlier this year. Ten of the 11 people who have died in the U.S. lived in Seattle. Johns Hopkins reports that at least 40 people in the state have contracted the disease.

At least 162 people in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.