NASA isn’t requiring employees work remotely over coronavirus COVID-19 concerns yet, but the administration is conducting a test this week to determine how such an event would work if the federal government mandated such a thing.
Jacqueline Feldscher, reporting for POLITICO:
All NASA employees and a number of Air Force personnel have been asked to work from home on Friday amid federal preparations for a potential coronavirus outbreak, according to a NASA spokesperson and an Air Force memo obtained by POLITICO.
The day will allow employees to test remote work technologies in case federal employees are forced to work from home for an extended period of time due to the virus.
NASA spokesperson Bettina Inclán provided this statement on the upcoming test:
“As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, NASA is taking various actions to maintain preparedness. To that end, Friday, March 6, will be an agency-wide telework day. NASA centers and headquarters regularly perform telework drills to test our capabilities, resources, and preparedness for large-scale teleworking.”
NASA, which employs some 17,000 people, is simply asking some employees to volunteer to telework as a way to discover technological and connectivity issues before a theoretical mandate is required.
Efforts to contain COVID-19, a virus that is deadly for older people for which we lack a vaccine, has also resulted in the cancellation of the 51st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
We regret to inform you that LPSC 51 will be cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19. This difficult decision has been made after a careful assessment of the risks as determined by the CDC and WHO; consultation with NASA PSD leadership; and consideration of community feedback. We are fully committed to ensuring that our conference attendees remain safe and well.
LPSC2020 was scheduled to take place March 16 through 20 at The Woodlands, Texas.