Markets close down amid coronavirus fears, Fed interest rate cut
FOX Business’ Kristina Partsinevelos breaks down the day’s financial statistics as all three markets close in the red.
An Amazon employee at the company’s Seattle headquarters has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus and is now quarantined.
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The employee, who works at Amazon’s “Brazil” office building in its Seattle campus, went home after feeling unwell on Tuesday, Feb. 25, according to an email the company sent to its Seattle and Bellevue employees.
“We’re supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine,” an Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business.
Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. (Credit: Amazon)
The company said it has notified all employees it knows of who were in close contact with the ill person — within 6 feet for a prolonged time.
For other employees, Amazon said the risk of catching the coronavirus should be low. But the company advised that any workers with symptoms of the coronavirus should stay home and seek medical attention.
“Your health is our top priority and we are continuing with enhanced deep cleaning and sanitization in the office,” the company wrote to employees.
While this is the first employee based in Washington headquarters, this isn’t the first Amazon worker to be diagnosed with coronavirus. Two employees in Milan, Italy have also been quarantined after catching the virus, Reuters reported Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence said that there were 77 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday. Washington had the most deaths, with three more reported. That's left major employers in Washington state feeling pressure from the outbreak.
Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks have already warned shareholders that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak could hurt their bottom line.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that employers provide flexible sick leave policies and tell any ill employees to stay home. But will employers tell their office-based workers to sign on from home or temporarily close locations if the outbreak worsens? Walmart, the fourth-largest private employer in Washington, implied it’s possible in a message to store associates last week, saying that the company had formed an emergency operations center task force and that it was in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, orders food at the Uwajimaya Asian Food and Gift Market, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Seattle’s International District. Inslee said the visit was to encourage people to keep patronizing businesses during the outbreak.
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“We’ll address the needs of each store, club and support center in each of our markets, and adjust business operations and travel as needed,” Walmart’s leadership wrote. “Your safety is our priority.”
Even before Tuesday's diagnosis, Amazon has already asked its employees to defer any non-essential travel. And Microsoft has canceled a gaming conference planned for this month, saying it will instead hold a digital-only event.
Travelers Meredith Ponder, left, and Coleby Hanisch, both of Des Moines, Iowa, wear masks to remind them not to touch their faces as they ride a train at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in SeaTac, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine T
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Several companies contacted by FOX Business Tuesday remained quiet about their coronavirus plans. But if the outbreak reaches a level similar to parts of China, they could end up temporarily shutting down locations if they react the way they did in China. In January, Starbucks said it had closed half its cafes in China due to the outbreak. Other U.S. chains including McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen also reportedly closed Chinese locations amid the virus’ spread.
As of Tuesday, there were more than 91,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,100 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to reporters in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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Even as consumers rushed to purchase supplies to be prepared for a quarantine, stocks of major Washington companies ended the day down.
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