The Kansas City National Security Campus, the nation’s manufacturing hub for the non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons, said Monday it will take a baby step back toward normal operations during the COVID-19 pandemic by asking some people to return to work on-site.

“The Kansas City National Security Campus is expanding its mission critical work activities,” according to a statement from the facility operated by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). “Employees who are being asked to return for an onsite assignment are being notified by their managers. We are maintaining safe and secure operations through the rigorous application of social distancing and other CDC [Center for Disease Control] guidance.”

The former Kansas City Plant started limiting on-site personnel and expanding teleworking on March 29. Although some personnel will now be asked to return to the facility, those who can telework will continue to do so.

It wasn’t clear how many people would return to the Kansas City National Security Campus this week, or when all of them would be back at their regular posts. Spokespersons for the facility, which is managed by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies [HON]. Normally, about 4,000 people work at the site.

Kansas City, Mo., itself has been harder hit by COVID-19 than the host region of other, more remote NNSA weapons production sites: the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C.; the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas; and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Cases in Kansas City spiked sharply in April, rising to nearly 420 at deadline Monday as of Monday morning, according to data tracked by the Johns Hopkins University. Kansas City reported slightly fewer near cases of the viral disease last week than the week before, according to data tracked by the Kansas City Department of Health. The city remains under a stay-at-home order through May 15, though workers in essential industries such as nuclear weapons production are still expected to show up for their shifts, if asked.

A plant spokesperson said the decision to partially ramp up operations was driven by the NNSA.

The return to work will be conducted in a phased approach to ensure that we maintain safe operations, the spokesperson said. In addition, the facility has enacted rigorous health and safety protocols, such as temperature screenings and enhanced measures in areas where social distancing is difficult.

What enhanced measures” the factory planned to put in place to protect employees in close quarters was not clear. The spokesperson would not respond Monday to a request for an expanation.

Meanwhile, there remained at deadline only 10 days until an official helm change at Kansas City National Security Campus. Eric Wollerman from Honeywell Aerospace will become president of the Kansas City management contractor effective April 30. Wollerman will replace John Ricciardelli, who had led Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies since work started under the company’s NNSA contract in 2016.

Ricciardelli presided over a disappointing 2019 at Kansas City, which the NNSA dinged in a recent performance review for not responding quickly enough to a part swap that has delayed a pair of nuclear weapons life-extension programs, the B61-12 gravity bomb and the W88 Alt-370 submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead.

The NNSA first production units for the new B61 and W88 iterations — proof of concept articles that will be dismantled and studied to prove their design is ready for mass manufacture — have been delayed for the better part of two years: to 2022 and 2021, respectively. The agency decided not to use commercial capacitors in the weapons and is instead designing custom capacitors that can last much longer in the field.

Delays at Kansas City, which will build the new capacitors, is creating a backup in the NNSA pipeline. In February, the Air Force said new fuses for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Missiles that will replace them, would be delayed about two years because of the pileup at Kansas City.