A part-time stadium employee who worked at a Seattle football game later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
King County health officials released a statement late Thursday that said the CenturyLink Field employee worked at the February 22nd game between the XFL's Seattle Dragon's and Dallas Renegades. After working to evaluate potential exposures with both the employee and the stadium's operator, First and Goal, officials determined "that the risk of infection to attendees was low."
"Public Health is following up with a few co-workers with close contacts of the employee at the February 22nd game to provide guidance on appropriate precautions," they said.
Members of the public who attended the game require no extra precautions, they said, while cautioning that the overall risk in King County is increasing and so everyone should be on the lookout for coronavirus symptoms.
"Nothing is more important to the professional sports teams of King County than the public safety and the well-being of their fans at all sporting events," county officials said. They added that the stadium staff would be disinfecting all areas of the arena before and after every event while increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue.
Anyone who is pregnant or who has weakened immune systems and anyone over 60 with underlying health conditions should avoid attending games or matches at the stadium -- or any large gathering of people -- Seattle & King County health officials said, citing new public health recommendations devised to slow the spread of the virus.
As of now, Seattle's professional sports organizations -- the Dragons, the Seahawks, the Mariners, and the Sounders FC -- will continue with their regularly scheduled events.
The teams are in touch with local health officials and their respective leagues on a regular basis.
The Seattle Sounders released a statement on Thursday saying that they are working closely with First & Goal Inc. and CenturyLink Field to provide a safe stadium experience.
Part of that effort "includes expanded sanitation procedures -- encompassing enhanced cleaning treatments to disinfect all areas of the stadium before and after every event -- in addition to increased hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue and continued staff education and training."
Over 200 cases in the US
State governments throughout the US are working to contain the spread of the coronavirus, as federal officials say more testing for the illness will likely see the number of known cases increase.
There are more than 200 cases in the United States, with at least 70 cases and 10 deaths in Washington state alone.
That national figure includes 156 people diagnosed through the US public health system, and 49 people repatriated to the US (46 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and three from China).
Still, officials insist that even as the number of cases continues to climb, there is no need to panic.
“The risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low, according to all of the experts that we are working with across the government,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a news conference on Tuesday.