Just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, the leader of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division sent a staff-wide email with what was perhaps an inevitable message amid a pandemic: An employee was showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the respiratory illness associated with the novel coronavirus.

“The employee’s physician has recommended that the employee self-quarantine for two weeks,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt wrote in the message, one of the first wide-scale acknowledgments of how coronavirus was affecting the U.S. Justice Department. The email’s importance was rated as “high.”

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