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NASA Ames employee tests positive for coronavirus, prompting mandatory work-from-home advisory

Access to the research center's central campus is restricted to essential personnel

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An employee working at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View has tested positive for the new coronavirus, prompting Ames officials to call for a mandatory work-from-home status effective Monday morning and lasting until further notice.

The federal agency said in a statement that it confirmed Sunday that one of the employees working at the research center tested positive for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. Though exposure to other employees on the site is believed to be limited, the research center has since been placed on "mandatory telework" status.

"The safety of our employees and their families is our top priority. Any decisions we have made, or will make, is with the safety of our workforce in mind," according to the statement Monday.

Access to the research center campus has since been restricted to essential personnel only, including safety and security staff and those who must be on-site for experiments. Ames workers who rely on specialized equipment and on-site labs are expected to receive "more guidance" from Ames officials, according to the statement.

With much of the workforce at home, public health officials and Ames medical personnel will have time to figure out who may have had contact with the virus, and assess which areas of the research center need cleaning to reduce further exposure.

Santa Clara County reported its first death on Monday, and five additional cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the county to 37. Heightened concerns over the spread of the virus has prompted local tech companies, including Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, to ask employees to work from home starting last week. Numerous city and regional events have also been canceled throughout the month of March.

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.

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Kevin Forestieri writes for the Mountain View Voice, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Sundown Joe
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:53 pm

I wish the authorities would tell us what it actually means “when a person tests positive for Covid-19.”

Is it a near death sentence like testing positive for Ebola?

Does it mean that person has a 1 in 500 chance of becoming a fatality? It’s confusing a lot of people.


5 people like this
Posted by The Positive & The Negative
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:30 pm

> I wish the authorities would tell us what it actually means “when a person tests positive for Covid-19.”

It means carrier. Not necessarily ill but capable of infecting others.

It is more dramatic to run with vagaries...sells more newspapers & TV news time.


6 people like this
Posted by Ames family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:36 pm

"he federal agency said in a statement that it confirmed Sunday that one of the employees working at the research center tested positive for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. Though exposure to other employees on the site is believed to be limited, the research center has since been placed on "mandatory telework" status.

"The safety of our employees and their families is our top priority. Any decisions we have made, or will make, is with the safety of our workforce in mind," according to the statement Monday. "

What about my citation for a moving violation on base that I did not commit and want to contest? I have to show up in federal court in San Jose! (Am in a high-risk category.) NASA Ames/the feds should dismiss all the petty infractions.

Although part of me wants to go to court, because after researching this, I am beginning to wonder if this is a case, like the one that Ruth Bader Ginsberg used to help get equal rights for women, in which it may be possible to use a small case to prosecute a larger issue related to federal preemption and ERISA, so that federal workers could start suing their insurance companies under state bad faith laws. Anyone know a law professor who wants to push back on the overreach in regards to federal preemption and ERISA?


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