BROOK PARK, Ohio — Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected tens of thousands of people worldwide, NASA is taking precautions to protect its employees in the state of Ohio as well as the rest of the country.
In Ohio, NASA has several thousand employees that are staffed at the Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Brook Park and the Plum Brook Station in Sandusky.
"The health and safety of NASA’s workforce is the agency’s top priority. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) concern continues to escalate, NASA is taking steps to ensure its workforce is protected and informed," said Jan Wittry, news chief at GRC in an email to News 5. "The agency is coordinating with the White House, State Department, and other federal agencies and officials, and has formed an internal, multi-office working group that will address issues as they arise."
On Tuesday, NASA sent an agency-wide email to its employees to make everyone aware of the plans the agency has in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
According to the email, NASA will conduct an agency-wide telework day on Friday to test the agency’s “capabilities, resources and preparedness for large-scale teleworking.”
"As always, the protection and care of our NASA team is the top priority. 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 agencywide telework day. NASA centers and headquarters regularly perform telework drills to test our capabilities, resources, and preparedness for large-scale teleworking," Wittry said.
According to its website, NASA is also monitoring employee travel. The agency states that four countries — Iran, South Korea, Italy and China — are considered high risk and if an employee has recently been to one of those countries, they will be prohibited from visiting any NASA center. In such an event, the employee is told to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 weeks, which according to the CDC, is the incubation period if the virus.
"NASA will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s Chief Health and Medical Officer, and communicate that guidance to its workforce as it becomes available," Wittry said.
According to documentation from NASA, this is first federal quarantine in 50 years and “the rate of rise for this infection was particularly concerning” because the number of people infected and the death toll has continued to escalate.
Additionally, NASA told employees that both international and domestic business trips may be canceled due to public health concerns.
Employees who show flu-like symptoms or signs of lower respiratory infection are asked to avoid heading to one of NASA’s on-site clinics and instead head to their primary care doctor, according to the email NASA sent to employees.
Click here to read more about how NASA is prepared to deal with the coronavirus.
More information from the Centers for Disease Control regarding the coronavirus can be found, here.