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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

SpaceX Hit With Worst Covid-19 Outbreak in Los Angeles

A Falcon 9 rocket is displayed outside the SpaceX headquarters on January 28, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.

A Falcon 9 rocket is displayed outside the SpaceX headquarters on January 28, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon (Getty Images)

The headquarters of SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, is currently experiencing an outbreak of covid-19 far worse than any other private business in the county, according to the L.A. Times and a tally from the L.A. County Public Health website. At least 132 SpaceX employees have recently tested positive for covid-19.

As the L.A. Times notes, there are an estimated 5,972 employees currently working at the facility and it’s unclear what kind of covid-19 protocols are in place. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who contracted covid-19 back in November of 2020, infamously predicted that the pandemic would be done by April 2020.

Other businesses with active outbreaks in the L.A.-area include the LAX airport FedEx facility, where 85 employees have tested positive, the Staples Center, where 12 employees have tested positive, and the military contractor Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, where 33 employees have contracted the disease.

This isn’t the first outbreak tied to the SpaceX headquarters. Back in March of 2020, an employee who had recently traveled overseas tested positive for covid-19, sending at least a dozen other employees into quarantine. It’s not clear how many employees eventually tested positive for covid-19 at the time.

The U.S. reported 268,307 new cases of covid-19 on Monday, an exceptionally large number likely due to a backlog from over the weekend. The seven-day average for new cases in the country is 142,973. The U.S. also reported 1,756 new deaths from covid-19 on Monday.

The new omicron variant has become dominant in the country in just the span of a week, accounting for roughly 73% of new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The omicron variant accounted for just 2.9% of cases a week before.

Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from death and serious illness during the pandemic. But just 61.4% of Americans have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, one of the lowest rates among wealthy countries.

Health experts also advise everyone to get a booster shot when they’re eligible, which seems to really help fight against serious disease as well. Moderna just announced on Monday that its booster was working very well against omicron. In fact, a booster from Moderna boosted antibody levels 37-fold, according to CNN.

Yes, covid-19 is surging across the U.S. and it can be tremendously depressing to know that the pandemic isn’t over just yet. But there are tools available that weren’t around at this time last year. Humanity can get through this if we work together. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask when you’re indoors. One day this will end. It has to.

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