Worker at Seattle's CenturyLink Field tests positive for coronavirus

SEATTLE -- An employee working at CenturyLink Field during a recent XFL game tested positive for novel coronavirus, King County authorities said Thursday.

"Public Health has worked with the employee and the operator of the stadium, First and Goal, to evaluate potential exposures at the Feb. 22 Seattle Dragons game, and public health officials have 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."

According to Executive Dow Constantine's office, Seattle's professional sports organizations will continue with planned events as scheduled. That includes the Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Dragons and Seattle Seahawks.

County officials said fans who attended the Feb. 22 Seattle Dragons Game do not need to take any extra precautions. They said the risk to the public is low.

Public Health - Seattle & King County says those with higher risk -- including people over age 60, anyone with underlying health conditions, people with weakened immune systems and those who are pregnant -- should stay home and avoid large groups of people as much as possible.

“The health and safety of the extended XFL family – especially our fans in Seattle – is of the utmost importance," said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President. "We share everyone’s concern about this public health issue and understand it is evolving on a daily basis.”

Seattle Sounders FC released a statement saying its match is still scheduled to take place Saturday, March 7 at CenturyLink Field:

"Seattle Sounders FC's match versus Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, March 7 is scheduled to take place as planned at CenturyLink Field. As our organization has previously stated, nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans at all Sounders FC events. We are in continuous dialogue with regional health authorities and Major League Soccer, in addition to our network of medical experts. Because of this, we are proceeding with Saturday's match and Sounders FC is following the updated guidelines that were released on Wednesday by Public Health - Seattle & King County.

"Additionally, we are working closely with our colleagues at First & Goal Inc. and CenturyLink Field to provide a safe matchday experience. This 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. It should also be noted that our club is aware of King County's recent announcement about a confirmed case of COVID-19 inside CenturyLink Field stemming from an event on February 22. The affected part-time stadium employee did not work any Sounders FC events. In coordination with First & Goal Inc. and Public Health - Seattle & King County, the club is following the regional health authority's determination that risk to stadium attendees from that employee was low and that no additional precautions are necessary heading into Saturday's match.

"As an added measure of safety in accordance with the new guidelines from Public Health - Seattle & King County, we are advising that the listed at-risk members of the community and any individual who is currently sick refrain from attending Saturday's contest. This is being done out of an abundance of caution, and members of these groups that already purchased tickets can work with representatives from Sounders FC's customer service department on exchange options. At this time, there has been no recommendation from Public Health - Seattle & King County to adjust scheduling for sporting events, as is the case with Seattle Public Schools and other community institutions. As this situation remains fluid, the club is in real-time communication with key community stakeholders, and we will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available."

Authorities said Thursday there at least 70 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, up from 39 on Wednesday. Eleven people have died.

One case has been reported in rural Grant Count in central Washington. The rest are in the Seattle area.

Vice President Mike Pence plans to meet Thursday with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials about the response to the virus during a visit to the state.