Tesla Workers At California Plant Test Positive For Coronavirus

A number of Tesla factory workers at its giant Fremont factory in Alameda County in California have tested positive for Coronavirus.

The plant was at the centre of a bitter dispute between health officials in Alameda County and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Musk had previously slammed the California lockdown and called it ‘fascist’ and ‘not democratic’, and said that authorities were effectively imprisoning people in their own homes.

Elon Musk at Tesla’s Autonomy Investor Day, April 2019. Image credit: Tesla

Factory argument

Last month Musk decided to press ahead and re-open in defiance of a local lockdown in Alameda County. He sent an email to Tesla’s workforce saying the car maker would restart limited production at its Fremont factory, which employs approximately 10,000 people.

For a time a clash looked to be looming, as Alameda County did not deem Tesla to be an essential business.

Musk got so angry he filed a lawsuit against the county in a San Francisco federal court.

He also threatened to move the Tesla factory out of California altogether, to Texas or Nevada.

Eventually Musk restarted production at the factory, and dared authorities to arrest him over the matter.

The two sides later reached an agreement about re-opening the site.

Musk’s clash with the local authorities gained the backing of President Donald Trump, who had urged that Tesla be allowed to reopen its electric vehicle assembly plant.

Coronavirus tests

As part of the deal to re-open, Tesla had to implement a Covid-19 prevention and control plan, and submit to inspections from Fremont Police Department to verify that Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and the agreed upon health and safety measures.

But now the Washington Post has reported that at least two employees of the Fremont complex have tested positive for Covid-19 since it resumed operations.

The Post cited unidentified employees at the plant who were briefed by the their managers, as its source.

Tesla did not respond to queries about the report.

According to the Washington Post, the staff who tested positive have not returned to work, and co-workers who were exposed to them are back at their jobs after a 14-day quarantine at home.

It is unclear at this time whether the positive tests impacted the restart of production at the facility.

Tesla had resisted shutdown orders in California as long as it could, only shutting down its Fremont factory on 18 March when ordered to do so.

It had also furloughed employees in early April.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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