The Securities and Exchange Commission is encouraging employees at its sprawling Washington headquarters to work remotely beginning Tuesday amid concern that one of the agency’s workers may have contracted the coronavirus.
In an email to staff Monday evening, the SEC said that “out of an abundance of caution” it was requiring all people on the floor where the person sat to “telework.” The regulator said that it was also reaching out to people with whom the person had been in contact, and that it had asked its landlord to have the area “deep cleaned.”
Wall Street’s main regulator is encouraging employees to stay home as it deals with extremely volatile markets. On Monday, U.S. stocks plunged more than 7.5%, triggering New York Stock Exchange circuit breakers en route to the worst day for the equities market since 2008.
The SEC told staff in the email that the employee hadn’t been at work since last Thursday and that officials believed the person was “asymptomatic” while in the building.
In a statement, the SEC confirmed that an employee was treated for respiratory symptoms and was being tested for coronavirus.
“Amongst other precautions, the SEC is encouraging headquarters employees to telework until further guidance,” the agency said in its public statement. “Even with increased telework, the SEC remains able and committed to fully executing its mission on behalf of investors, including monitoring market function and working closely with other regulators and market participants.”