132 SpaceX employees test positive for COVID-19 at Hawthorne Headquarters

SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters currently faces large COVID outbreak amidst the cOmicron surge.

According to data released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, at least 132 employees at SpaceX’s Hawthorne Headquarters have tested positive for COVID-19. This figure accounts for roughly a quarter of the 496 local workplace COVID infections in LA County. It’s unclear if the Hawthorne outbreak is a result of the new Omicron variant – Omicron was first detected in LA County in late November, with more cases emerging in December.

In an internal email sent by SpaceX to Hawthorne employees, and obtained by Space.com, the company pushed back on the health report:

“In September, several employees who work in the same area contracted COVID outside of work at a non-work-related event. Because SpaceX has worked diligently to ensure testing is available to all employees, and have encouraged employees to get tested at work, these employees received COVID tests in Hawthorne, which triggered SpaceX to report these positive cases to LACDPH.”

“Of the 132 reported ‘outbreak’ cases, only one case was suspected to have occurred at work,” the email continues. “132 is also the aggregate number of cases reported since the September case described above, and that number includes employees who may have been on vacation for several weeks, returned to work and received a COVID test at SpaceX that turned out positive. Again, it does not mean 132 employees in Hawthorne have COVID today or contracted it in the workplace.”

SpaceX internal email, obtained by Space.com

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously faced heavy criticism for his public statements regarding the pandemic. In March 2020, Musk tweeted that he thought “the coronavirus pandemic is dumb,” later predicting “zero new cases” by the end of April. Back in May 2020, the Billionaire defiantly reopened a Tesla Factory in Alameda County against local order. Since reopening, at least 400 employees at the plant have been infected with the virus.

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