San Francisco (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company has reported 132 COVID-19 cases at its California headquarters, a fourth of the total number of cases in non-residential locations in Los Angeles County, according to county data.
The latest cases mark the second time a large number of COVID-19 cases have been reported at a company headed by Musk. Electric car maker Tesla Inc reported 440 cases at its factory in Fremont in Northern California from May to December 2020, according to Alameda County data obtained by legal information site Plainsite.
In an internal email to employees on Monday, SpaceX said the 132 cases had been reported since September, when “several employees who work in the same area contracted COVID outside of work at a non-work-related event.”
“Again, it does not mean 132 employees in Hawthorne have COVID today or contracted it in the workplace,” it said, referring to the Los Angeles-area city that is home to SpaceX’s headquarters.
Asked for comment, SpaceX shared the internal email.
A total of 496 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in nonresidential locations such as workplaces, food and retail stores, and places of worship, Los Angeles County said, without elaborating on the time frame for those cases. SpaceX posted the highest number of cases in the county, followed by FedEx Corp’s Los Angeles office with 85 cases.
SpaceX is the most well-established player in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures. It has already launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In May 2020, Musk sued Alameda County as he reopened the Tesla factory in Fremont, defying that county’s lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; editing by Jonathan Oatis)