A year into the pandemic, the Department of Energy is officially in the market for routine COVID-19 tests for employees who work at the agency’s Washington area headquarters, according to a request for information posted Wednesday.
“It is anticipated that testing and support services will be required for an initial six-month period, with additional 90-day option periods not to exceed two years,” the DoE wrote in the notice. Interested parties have until Feb. 8 to reply.
Before COVID-19, about 7,000 federal employees and support contractors worked in the DoE headquarters buildings in the capital region, including about 1,000 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) employees. That includes the Forrestal Building in downtown Washington and the Germantown building in nearby suburban Maryland.
The NNSA manages civilian nuclear-weapons programs, including the maintenance and refurbishment of warheads and bombs.
DoE largely shut down Forrestal and Germantown from mid-March to early June, with some essential employees and top-level managers reporting to the offices there occasionally. By June 8, the start of Phase 2 of DoE’s four-phase reopening plan, some 1,400 of the 7,000 headquarters employees had returned to the office. DoE headquarters remained in Phase 2 ever since.
While some DoE sites, notably the NNSA’s Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, began testing their own employees for COVID-19 last year, DoE headquarters never did.
More than 20 headquarters-area employees tested positive for COVID-19 before then-Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette ceased public reporting of cases in the capital region. At least one of these people, an employee who worked at Forrestal, died from COVID-19.