Several workers at Tesla’s California plant tested positive for COVID-19 in May after CEO Elon Musk sued a county to reopen following a months-long economic shutdown, according to employees at the factory.
Supervisors at Tesla’s Alameda County, California, production plant told employees during a meeting that the electric vehicle maker reported several positive cases of the virus, according to two workers who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
One of the workers described Tesla as exercising lax social distancing guidelines, according to WaPo.
“No social distancing at all when clocking in/out [because] people are … in a hurry to go home or get back to their work station,” the person reportedly said in a text message to WaPo. Management “don’t say anything to the associates [because] they’re not doing it either,” the employee added, referring to the company’s social distancing rules.
The virus strain originated in Wuhan, China, before spreading to the United States, where it has killed more than 112,000 people, according to John Hopkins University’s virus tracker. California’s lockdown was designed to slow the spread of the virus. (RELATED: Elon Musk Announces California Tesla Plant Will Restart, Says If Anybody Is Arrested It Should Be Him)
Alameda County allowed Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., plant to reopen in May provided the company meet an agreed upon safety measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The county conceded after Tesla filed a lawsuit that month accusing officials of “acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” Musk said on Twitter in May.
Part of the agreement between the county and Tesla required the company to report all positive cases to the Alameda County Public Health Department, WaPo reported. There could have been positive cases prior to the agreement, however, since Tesla restarted production before obtaining the county’s permission.
Neither Tesla nor the Alameda County Public Health Department immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the employee’s claims. County spokeswoman Neetu Balram told WaPo that there were known workplace infections of county residents tied to Tesla.
“If a person tested positive and they were not a resident of Alameda County, it’s possible we would not have that case reported to us,” Balram added.
Some conservatives and opponents of economic lockdowns expressed support for the Silicon Valley billionaire.
President Donald Trump, for instance, backed Musk and called on California to allow Tesla to reopen the plant. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!” Trump tweeted on May 12.
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