We wanted to let you know we have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection. This afternoon we heard from an individual who works at the Lab that they have tested positive for COVID-19. The Lab has been preparing for this circumstance for several weeks.
First and most important, the individual is self-isolating, resting at home, and doing well. We are working closely with our Health Services staff to support the individual throughout recovery. We look forward to their speedy recovery and will welcome them back on-site when they have recovered.
Although we cannot disclose the individual’s identity, we are working with public health to determine whether there are any contacts at the Lab’s main site who need to be notified. We believe the individual practiced proper social distancing while on-site, and we know of no contacts of concern at this time. If anyone is determined to have been at risk of exposure, they would be notified by public health.
Our EH&S and Facilities teams have marked the affected areas at the Lab with signage and will clean and disinfect those areas.
We recognize that this situation is unsettling, and this news will understandably cause some apprehension. Our priority has been to keep our people as healthy and safe as possible, guided by long-standing public health protocols.
It’s also important to acknowledge that we expected this to happen. Our public health authorities have indicated that many of us may ultimately become infected. We can expect more cases in the coming weeks among the 7,000-plus people who make up our diverse Lab community.
In each case, individuals who are at increased risk of exposure will be notified in coordination with public health. As confirmed cases become more commonplace, depending on circumstances, we may not notify the broad Lab community of every case. Please review our COVID-19 website for the latest on the Lab’s response.
We want to emphasize that the vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 will recover with mild symptoms; a relatively small fraction will require medical care. After an individual recovers, they can return to normal activity and do not present a continued risk to anyone. We want to make sure that when we do return to work, we’re welcoming everyone back to our Lab community regardless of our individual health experiences.
Finally, please continue to follow the public health guidance to shelter-in-place, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Slowing the spread of the coronavirus is the best way to ensure that people who urgently need healthcare in our communities can receive treatment. We want you, your families, and your colleagues to be safe.
Deputy Lab Director for Operations and Chief Operating Officer