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Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Update on the Laboratory’s COVID-19 response

July 21, 2020
Two women sitting in front of desk top computers

Additional training and self-assessments are required for all of the limited number of employees who have to be on-site at the Laboratory.

We are continuously supporting our neighbors in the region as they respond to the pandemic.

The Lab continues to adapt and perform

Over the past few months, the spread of COVID-19 has affected the whole world, bringing challenges we never anticipated. Our Laboratory’s workforce has responded with courage and flexibility to this evolving situation.

A majority of our 13,000 employees are still working remotely, executing the national security mission of our Laboratory from the safety of their homes. For the fraction of our employees who must come onsite to do essential projects, the Laboratory’s goal is to keep them, their families, and their communities as safe as possible.

We’ve implemented additional training about safety and the Laboratory’s expectations for working onsite during COVID-19. Some of these measures include:

  • staggered shifts to help limit contact,
  • required face-covering and social distancing,
  • daily self-assessments for all onsite employees,
  • additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for people whose jobs require close contact,
  • increased disinfection of high-touch areas and tools,
  • limiting business travel to mission-essential only travel,
  • issuing travel guidance for return to work after business or personal travel, and
  • COVID-19 testing for about 400 employees each week.

Our goal is to increase employee knowledge and confidence so that when they come to work—whether they’re in the field, on a job site, or in an office —they have the information that they need to minimize their risk. By following these measures, the Laboratory has been able to continue our mission-critical work.

Supporting the community

We are continuously supporting our neighbors in the region as they respond to the pandemic. LANL employees and Triad National Security have provided monetary support to The Food Depot and regional community foundations. Triad has also given $10,000 to assist New Mexico's Native American Pueblos. The Pueblo Relief Fund will use this donation to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and support tribal members.

The Laboratory recently hosted a virtual version of its Summer Physics Camp for high-school women, and is moving forward on educational projects with regional partners including Taos High School, Northern New Mexico College, and Santa Fe Community College. We are virtually onboarding new employees and equipping many to work remotely.

We are bringing our scientific expertise, technology, and materials to bear against COVID-19 in four main ways: computer modeling, laboratory testing, manufacturing, and medical countermeasures. We are tracing COVID-19’s origins, growth, and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies all the way from the global to the county level. Our models are used by some state governments (including New Mexico) and by the CDC. We are also testing and manufacturing ventilators, and evaluating the potential of 3D printing to produce medical equipment. The Laboratory has also created a new website to help analyze SARS-CoV-2 genomic data, allowing researchers to detect the virus and to analyze its evolution.

These are extraordinary times, but we are in this together. The Laboratory highest priority is to keep our employees and communities safe while continuing to deliver on our enduring mission. 

Thom Mason
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director