NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama would be moving to Stage 3 in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shaking the globe.
Stage 3 is “mandatory telework status,” Bridenstine said in a release on NASA’s website, adding that there is “restricted access to the center until further notice.” The government space agency recently received confirmation that an employee at Marshall Space Flight Center has tested positive for COVID-19.
The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution,” with all other NASA centers moving to Stage 2, where “telework is strongly encouraged for employees who can work directly.”
The Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Ala. is the agency’s civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center and is the largest center in NASA. It was responsible for developing the Saturn launch vehicles in the Apollo space program.
Bridenstine’s announcement comes after an employee at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California tested positive for COVID-19. Ames Research Center is also in Stage 3 “mandatory telework status.”
The agency provided an update on how it would handle its coronavirus plans last week in light of the positive test.
NASA’s Bridenstine said the agency’s leadership continues to coordinate “closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and interagency partners in our nation’s unified response to coronavirus (COVID-19), and regularly re-evaluating the conditions at each center.”
“The vigilance our workforce has displayed in our response to coronavirus is remarkable and has placed our agency in a position of strength as we confront this national emergency,” Bridenstine added. “I’m grateful for all the members of the NASA community and everything they’re doing to care for the health of our workforce and keeping the mission going. We will get through this together and NASA will continue to accomplish amazing things for our country and all of humanity.”
There have been 164,470 reported cases of COVID-19, including at least 3,700 in the U.S.