News Release

Sunday, March 15, 2020

NIH Reports First Known Employee with COVID-19 Infection

NIH informed its staff early this morning that it has its first known case of an NIH staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. NIH has reported the case to state and local public health officials. While this is an unfortunate development, it is not surprising, and NIH expects that there will be more cases of infection among NIH staff.

The individual works for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases but is not involved in patient care. The individual is quarantined at home and doing well. Importantly, the individual was asymptomatic while at work, which is believed to lower the risk of transmission. After developing symptoms, the individual took the appropriate action, stayed home and called the NIH Occupational Medical Service (OMS), which is managing potential COVID-19 infection among NIH staff. OMS arranged testing, and the result was positive. NIH commends the infected individual for following the NIH guidance, which has allowed us to take swift action.

OMS and the NIH Clinical Center Hospital Epidemiology Service have identified staff who work in close proximity to this individual and may have been exposed. Those individuals have been contacted and will be screened for symptoms as soon as possible and asked to self-quarantine at home if their exposure constitutes a significant risk of infection according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. OMS will monitor them closely for infection.

NIH will handle each case with the utmost respect to privacy while also informing potentially affected staff and taking swift measures to mitigate spread of the virus. NIH is reminding staff to follow the CDC guidance about COVID-19 to prevent illness and recognize symptoms.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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