SpaceX Headquarters Hit by Covid Outbreak With 132 Infected
(Bloomberg) -- At least 132 employees at SpaceX’s California headquarters have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent months, the largest non-residential confirmed case count in Los Angeles County.
In a memo to workers, SpaceX said the outbreak stems from September when “several employees who work in the same area contracted Covid outside of work at a non-work-related event.” Only one of the 132 employees is suspected of contracting the virus at work, according to the memo, which was shared by a SpaceX spokesman Tuesday.
The data were reported Monday by county health officials, noting that the figures are dynamic and subject to change. Almost 6,000 employees work at Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s headquarters in Hawthorne, near Los Angeles International Airport, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The cases come during a busy stretch for the company, which has completed four Falcon 9 launches since Dec. 9, including a cargo supply mission to the International Space Station early Tuesday.
The U.S. is grappling with a renewed surge amid the spread of the omicron variant. Daily coronavirus infections nationwide jumped to the highest level since September, with almost 254,000 cases reported Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
In March 2020, SpaceX founder Elon Musk challenged officials in California’s Alameda County, the site of a Tesla Inc. factory, over pandemic restrictions that closed the auto plant in Fremont. Musk also sued the county before later dropping that lawsuit.
L.A. county’s public health office requires that all employees wear a face mask while working indoors, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating, drinking or alone in a room. For the most part, private employers like SpaceX aren’t included in the county’s strict policy on showing proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter some public venues such as restaurants, bars and gyms.
SpaceX’s workplace testing in Hawthorne prompted the company to report the cases to the county, according to the memo. L.A. county health officials didn’t immediately comment on the data.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.