An office building used by one of the main contractors for the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state has been disinfected after an employee was tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a weekend posting on a Hanford website.
The office building at 3170 George Washington Way “has been disinfected and access is no longer restricted,” DoE said. After consultation with the Benton-Franklin Health District, personnel assigned to the building are not being told to take any action at this time but “should be aware and monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus.”
The brief Hanford posting did not provide additional information on the employee of support services contractor Mission Support Alliance, who Hanford Manager Brian Vance said Thursday is being tested for the virus. It was also not entirely clear if the employees at the building were to report back to work at the site yet.
The Department of Energy runs the U.S. nuclear weapons program, and cleans up Cold War-era nuclear weapons production sites that were shut down after the Soviet Union fell.
Separately, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said Sunday the agency is following a federal directive that only “mission-critical’ travel take place until further notice. As cases of coronavirus infection spread, the increased travel restriction is being implemented by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the energy secretary said in the memo. Only critical travel can be approved at the discretion of top management.
The Energy Department had already restricted most foreign travel and urged department managers to reconsider large gatherings in the face of the coronavirus spread.
The DoE Office of Environmental Management also announced late last week that all public tours of its Cold War and Manhattan Project cleanup projects are suspended through the end of April in an “abundance of caution” over the coronavirus outbreak.
Brouillette said in his memo that DoE employees should take home their federal laptop and other telework tools nightly, just in case. The DoE has also set up a hotline (202-586-COVD; 202-586-2683) and email address (COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org) for reporting potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“This is a challenging time for all of us and our families,” Brouillette said. “I want to assure you that the Department is moving quickly to respond to this situation and that your health and safety remain the top priority.”
ABC News reported at 1 a.m. Monday there were more than 3,200 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including 61 deaths.