NASA employees ordered to work remotely amid coronavirus outbreak

‘Limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19,’ NASA officials say

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ORLANDO, Fla. – In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, NASA is ordering all employees and contractors to work from home until further notice, according to a news release from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework. Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite. Please contact your supervisor as soon as possible if you have any questions,” the release said.

Bridenstine shared the news Tuesday night after a number of NASA employees tested positive for COVID-19, he said in the release.

“Although a limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities,” he said.

It’s unclear how many employees have tested positive for the virus.

[CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases in real time]

NASA previously encouraged employees to work from home after at least two employees at NASA facilities in other parts of the country tested positive for the virus, officials said in a March 14 update.

“As you are aware, Ames Research Center in California was elevated to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework after an onsite case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 8. We recently received confirmation that an employee at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has tested positive for COVID-19. As with Ames – in consultation with Marshall Center Director Jody Singer, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, and in accordance to agency response plans ­– Marshall has been elevated to Stage 3 and is in mandatory telework status, with restricted access to the center until further notice," the March 14 update said.

The latest update from NASA officials elevates all of its centers and facilities to Stage 3 of the agency’s response framework and makes working from home mandatory for all employees and contractors.

Agency officials said NASA leadership is continuing to monitor the rapidly developing situation that is the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk it poses to the workforce. Employees are advised to be on the lookout for updates.

“You should anticipate continued frequent communication from your center director, myself and others. Up-to-date agency announcements and guidelines are available on the NASA People website, please check it often,” the release said. “NASA’s early and thoughtful actions in coordination with our country’s unified response to this health emergency is an incredible display of national solidarity. Thank you for your vigilance and flexibility. I am confident your diligence and commitment will ensure our mission will continue. Please make certain you are giving the appropriate attention to your health and that of your family.”

In the meantime, Bridenstine encouraged employees and their families to follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and White House Coronavirus Task Force to help fight the spread of the virus.

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