Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter ask employees to stay away from Silicon Valley and Seattle HQs as they hunker down against coronavirus
Silicon Valley is bracing itself for the coronavirus.
Now the virus is in the US, tech companies are taking precautions closer to home — particularly in California and Seattle, where the majority of big tech companies are headquartered.
According to the most recent WHO figures, there are now more than 97,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus worldwide — although the vast majority of these are still in mainland China where it originated. In the US, 148 cases of the virus have been confirmed and 10 deaths.
In response, some tech companies have temporarily shut down offices and asked thousands of employees to work from home if at all possible.
Facebook said late Thursday it was “strongly” recommending staff in its Bay Area offices work from home.
“This decision is based on our desire to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. The health and safety of our teams, their loved ones and our neighbors remain a top priority,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.
“Based on guidance from Santa Clara County today, we are strongly recommending that all Bay Area employees and contingent staff work from home starting tomorrow, Friday, March 6,” they added.
Facebook has also shut down its Seattle offices after a contract worker tested positive for the virus.
Apple Inc. is encouraging employees in Silicon Valley to work from home as an “additional precaution” against the outbreak of coronavirus, joining other major technology companies, including Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
The iPhone maker has two main headquarters in Cupertino, California, — the Apple Park campus and its original Infinite Loop set of buildings — in addition to offices elsewhere in Santa Clara County. Apple also is offering workers in Seattle the option to work from home. The company employs engineers in Seattle on machine-learning technology.
The work-at-home policy is in effect for Friday, Apple said in a statement. The company didn’t comment on future plans.
Apple retail stores in the San Francisco Bay Area remain open, but the company is limiting some “Today at Apple” classes in the region and in the Seattle area, which has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. The iPhone maker also is spacing out Genius Bar service appointments throughout the stores so people are not as close to one another.
Apple’s supply chain has been impacted by the virus as well, with devices like the iPad Pro and replacement iPhones seeing shortages, Bloomberg News has reported. The company has also restricted employee travel to China, South Korea and Italy.
More than 100,000 cases of the virus known as Covid-19 have been confirmed, resulting in 3,405 deaths. There are 126 illnesses in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.