A Senate staffer just became the first known person on Capitol Hill to be infected with the coronavirus

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  • A staffer who works in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first person connected to Congress who’s been diagnosed with the virus.
  • Cantwell’s office announced that the staffer had “no known contact” with the senator or other members of Congress and has been in isolation since becoming symptomatic.
  • “On the advice of the Attending Physician, the senator has closed her Washington, D.C. office this week for deep cleaning and staff will be teleworking,” Cantwell’s office said in a statement.
  • On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
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A staffer who works in Senator Maria Cantwell’s office has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first person connected to Congress known to have the virus.

Cantwell’s office announced that the staffer had “no known contact” with the senator or other members of Congress and has been in isolation since becoming symptomatic.

The senator from Washington is closing her office for the rest of the week and requested that any staffers with symptoms who came in contact with the infected person be tested.

“On the advice of the Attending Physician, the senator has closed her Washington, D.C. office this week for deep cleaning and staff will be teleworking,” Cantwell’s office said in a statement.

Several members of Congress have closed their offices this week and quarantined themselves after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus. But no member of Congress has, as of yet, tested positive themselves.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus, which has spread to more than 100 countries, a pandemic.

The WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” The determination is based on the geographic spread of a disease, the severity of illnesses it causes, and its effects on society. The WHO is concerned both about how quickly the virus is spreading and the inaction it’s being met with by governments around the world.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, has sickened more than 126,000 people and killed over 4,600 people around the world.

Hilary Brueck and Anna Medaris Miller contributed to this report.