At least 132 SpaceX employees have tested positive for COVD-19 at the company’s factory in Hawthorne, California, the Los Angeles Times reports — the biggest outbreak at a workplace in the area.
According to data provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there is an “active outbreak” at the space company, but we aren’t entirely sure how many active case of COVID there are as of right now. The data includes “cases reported since the beginning of the current active outbreak and may include some cases that have since recovered.”
Nevertheless, SpaceX accounts for almost a third of workplace COVID cases in the county, according to the county’s public health department, where it’s a major employer in the area, with 6,000 people staffed at its headquarters in Hawthorne.
The news comes as the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus is sending cases of COVID skyrocketing across much of the globe — including California. The US is getting close to hitting records when it comes to new cases of COVID, with officials reporting almost 300,000 new cases on Monday.
Omicron is officially dominant in the country, making up more than 73 percent as of late last week.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has had a strained relationship with the coronavirus. In May 2020, Musk forced workers at Tesla’s car plant in Fremont, California to keep working despite county restrictions.
Then in March, news emerged that Musk’s defiance at the time led to hundreds of COVID-19 cases at the plant.
Fortunately, a lot has changed since then, with vaccinations being widely available for many months, giving workers significant protection against severe illness.
But the situation is nonetheless precarious. Officials are warning that knock-on effects of everybody becoming ill at the same time could be devastating.
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READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak at SpaceX yields 132 positive cases [LA Times]