COVID-19 triggers ‘work-from-home’ trend in Seattle

FILE - This April 12, 2016 file photo shows the Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France. The Pentagon has awarded Microsoft a $10 billion cloud computing contract called JEDI, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The contentious bidding process for the contract pitted Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle, among others, against one another. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

SAN FRANCISCO – Tech firms in Seattle, a new focal point for the coronavirus epidemic, were telling employees this week to take advantage of technology to work remotely in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Microsoft, with headquarters in Redmond, a short distance from Seattle, put out word to employees this week that if possible, they should work from their residence for the next couple of weeks.

People considered more vulnerable to succumbing to COVID-19, such as those older than 60 years of age or with medical conditions, were told to arrange for time off if their jobs require them to go to the office, according to an online post by Microsoft.

“We are providing real-time guidance to employees in all affected regions,” the company told AFP.

“We continue to monitor the situation and take action as necessary to help protect employees.”

Amazon this week confirmed that an employee in Seattle had been quarantined after testing positive for the new coronavirus.

Workers known to have been in close contact with the ill employee were notified.

Coronavirus deaths at a nursing home in the Seattle suburbs have heightened concerns in the area, where aerospace giant Boeing has major operations.

Boeing told AFP that its facilities in that area remain open, and there has been no crimp to airplane production.

Boeing sent out word to workers late Wednesday that someone who works on a 777 aircraft production line went home ill with flu-like symptoms.

As a precaution, Boeing sent home other workers who were part of the sick employee’s team, according to the message.

“So far, we have not had any confirmed cases of coronavirus at Boeing,” the message to Boeing workers read.