The outbreak at SpaceX resulted in 132 coronavirus cases; the company says dates until September

At least 132 employees at SpaceX’s Hawthorne rocket factory have tested positive for the coronavirus amid a major outbreak that coincides with a busy month of launches for the aerospace manufacturer.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released data as part of the countywide COVID-19 case summary.

In a message sent to employees, SpaceX said there have been 132 cases at company headquarters since September in which “multiple employees working in the same area contracted COVID outside of work at a non-work related event.”

Outbreaks listed by the Los Angeles County Department of Health include cases reported since the positive test cluster and may include individuals who have since recovered, according to information from the county. An outbreak ends when no new cases are reported for two weeks, according to the county.

Los Angeles County health officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Approximately 5,972 employees were working at the Hawthorne facility as of May, according to court documents.

SpaceX said in a memo that only one case of coronavirus at work is suspected and that the number of 132 includes employees “who may have been on vacation for weeks, returned to work and tested positive for COVID at SpaceX, which came back positive. . ”

SpaceX said it “worked hard to make testing available to all employees and encouraged employees to take testing at work.”

At least one more outbreak has occurred at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, where Elon Musk’s core design, manufacturing and engineering is done, including work on its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules.

March 2020, shortly after California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the nation’s first lockdown amid the nascent pandemic, an employee who traveled overseas and a local healthcare provider tested positive for the virus. At least 12 employees who were in close contact with these people were sent home for a two-week quarantine.

Musk initially criticized the response to the pandemic as “stupid” and overblown, and for a time Tesla’s Bay Area car plant remained open last year despite statewide lockdown orders. before submitting to restrictions.

More than 400 workers at the plant have tested positive for COVID-19 from May, when the plant reopened, to December. according to public health data published by the transparency website.

The company had four launches this month, including two this past weekend that took place on opposite coasts about 15 hours apart.

Early Saturday morning, SpaceX launched another batch of its Starlink broadband satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California. A few hours later, the company launched a Turkish communications satellite from the Space Force station at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The current outbreak at SpaceX is the largest of 37 in Los Angeles County workplaces, grocery and retail stores, and places of worship, all of which the Health Department calls non-residential, according to publicly available data.

The second-largest such outbreak occurred at FedEx near Los Angeles International Airport, where 85 cases were confirmed among employees.

FedEx spokeswoman Isabelle Rollison said the cases were reported over a six-month period from June to November.

“The health and safety of our team members is our top priority,” she said, noting that the current number of cases is “very low.”

FedEx is implementing strict security measures, including mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing, at all of its facilities, Rollison said.

A separate outbreak at Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense company, included 33 cases in Palmdale.

An outbreak in a non-residential setting is listed by the public health department if people associated with the place have a cluster of respiratory illnesses, including at least three people who test positive for the coronavirus.