Politico, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, and Mother Jones have asked reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine and work remotely due to concerns that they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. Both the Post and Politico say they’ve taken measures to clean and sanitize public areas. The Post has asked employees who were at CPAC to self-quarantine for seven days. All newsrooms tell Washingtonian they’ve taken such measures out of an abundance of caution.
“We understand that this news may be jarring, but it’s important to recognize that this was a large conference and that the risk of transmission for employees who were not in close contact with the infected individual is extraordinarily low,” Politico’s memo says. The Post has already canceled nonessential travel for employees. It has also canceled all WP Live events for March and has canceled office tours.
Someone who’d attended the annual conservative gathering at National Harbor last month has tested positive for the virus. Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC, has said he shook this person’s hand. Schlapp shook President Trump‘s hand after interacting with the infected person. The White House says the President never interacted with the infected person and shows no symptoms of the virus.
US Senator Ted Cruz and US Representative Paul A. Gosar have also self-quarantined because they interacted with the infected person. In a statement late Sunday, the American Conservative Union says the Maryland Department of Health has “screened thousands” of employees at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, and that no one, including CPAC staff, hotel employees, or attendees has shown any sign of being infected.
CPAC is traditionally well-covered by DC media outlets. Washingtonian has asked many outlets whether they plan any similar precautionary measures. (If you didn’t hear from me, please email me and let me know.) Fox News didn’t tell me about any specific CPAC-related measures, but it, too, has banned nonessential travel. It’s also canceled its upfront, upped its cleaning and sanitizing, and installed Purell stands and made lots of Clorox wipes available. Right Wing Watch tells Washingtonian it, too, has decided to self-quarantine.
As you have probably heard, this weekend the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Washington, D.C., and earlier today it was announced that a marine assigned to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, has tested positive. Additionally, an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has tested positive for the virus. The American Conservative Union, host of CPAC, said that the exposure occurred previously to the conference held at Maryland’s National Harbor in late February. The individual is currently under the care of medical professionals in New Jersey, and has been quarantined.
Like many other news organizations, POLITICO had several employees present at various times during the four day conference. We are in regular communication with them and are taking all necessary steps to ensure their safety. Out of an abundance of caution, they have been asked to self-quarantine and work remotely for the duration of the incubation period. Self-quarantine of well individuals who may have been exposed is simply a precautionary measure that helps mitigate spread of the virus and is a step that we will continue moving forward. We understand that this news may be jarring, but it’s important to recognize that this was a large conference and that the risk of transmission for employees who were not in close contact with the infected individual is extraordinarily low. More broadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 remains low for most people.
We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of you, and are working around the clock to stay on top of the latest developments to ensure your health and that you feel safe coming to work. To that end, earlier today, we asked our cleaning service to disinfect and sanitize our Rosslyn office space using the Clorox Total 360 system. This additional level of cleaning provides coverage of Clorox cleaning solution to hard-to-reach surfaces (including soft surfaces).
If, for any reason, you do not feel comfortable coming into the office, please contact your manager and we will work together to develop a plan for you to work remotely.
This is an evolving situation and we will continue to keep you apprised of any updates. We understand that this is a stressful time, and that it might seem like there are more questions than answers. Rest assured that we are here to support you and are taking all precautions keep you safe.
To All Post Employees & Contractors,
Over the weekend, organizers of the CPAC and AIPAC conferences that were held in the DC region confirmed that several participants had tested positive for coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked Post employees who attended those conferences to self-quarantine for seven days (since the first seven days of possible incubation have passed). Additionally, all public spaces in our DC headquarters are being thoroughly cleaned tonight (Sunday), including elevator cabs, buttons, and lobbies, stairwells, conference rooms, and tabletops on all floors. We will also continue supplying disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer in conference rooms and other public spaces.
If you are not feeling well, please stay home and let your manager know, who will then inform HR (me or Jen Legat). See update #4 for a contact list of our medical providers. As a reminder, the ban on non-essential work travel for the month of March remains in place. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will advise as practices change. As always, if you have questions, please reach out to me, Gregg Fernandes, or Tracy Grant anytime.
This story will be updated.