Several Tesla employees reportedly contracted the coronavirus after Elon Musk opened its factory despite shelter-in-place orders

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
grapier@businessinsider.com (Graham Rapier)
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Tesla factory fremont model 3
A Tesla Model 3 rolls out of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Photo by )

Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images

"Several" Tesla employees tested positive for the coronavirus after Elon Musk defied local shelter-in-place orders to resume production at the company's factories, the Washington Post's Faiz Siddiqui reported Tuesday.

Managers held meetings to inform employees of the cases and that the affected people were told not to come in to work, according to two anonymous employees who spoke to the paper.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

The positive cases are exactly what varying forms of shelter-in-place orders around the country — decried by Musk as fascist —were designed to prevent.

The billionaire took to Twitter at the very beginning of the pandemic in March to call the panic surrounding it "dumb." He doubled down on that take as deaths skyrocketed, saying "FREE AMERICA NOW."

And once Tesla's business was threatened by shelter-in-place orders in Alameda County, which contains its Fremont factory, Musk launched into a profanity-laced tirade on Tesla's first quarter earnings call.

"Frankly, I would call it forcible imprisoning of people in their homes against all of, their constitutional rights, in my opinion," he said. "It's breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country. What the f---. Excuse me. Outrage. Outrage."

Tesla also filed a lawsuit against local officials about the lockdown that was eventually dropped.

In the six weeks since, US coronavirus deaths have topped 116,000. Researchers have found clear evidence that lockdown orders are effective in slowing transmission, and that many US deaths were preventable.  

According to the Washington Post, Tesla's May 18 agreement with Alameda leaders to reopen includes a provision to report all positive cases. However, that does not include the days when Tesla workers were in the factory in defiance of the orders.

In early June,  The Verge reported that at least four workers at Tesla's US facilities, including one employee at the company's joint factory with Panasonic in Upstate New York, which also re-opened in May, had tested positive for COVID-19.

For the time being, Tesla workers are working with more space between each other, regular temperature checks, and other guidelines as per the company's "return to work playbook" released in May.

"We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner," Tesla said in the playbook.

What's more, Tesla's own environmental impact report, published Monday, found a dramatic decrease in air pollution — something Musk has championed — thanks to shelter-in-place orders.

"It is not hard to imagine that many cities could become electric-only in the near future as they begin to witness the impact that ICE vehicles have on air quality," it said.

Read the original article on Business Insider