There were 270 new, confirmed COVID-19 cases, including another fatal case, among National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) contractor employees and civil servants as of the end of the Thanksgiving holiday week, an agency spokesperson said Monday.

The fatal case was at the Los Alamos National Laboratory: the second COVID-19 death at the nation’s first nuclear weapons lab, and the fifth overall for semi autonomous Department of Energy nuclear-weapons steward, the spokesperson said. The Nevada National Security Site has had two fatal cases, and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., has had one fatal case.

Last week, 100 NNSA contractors and federal employees recovered from their bouts with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan, China, about a year ago, making for 169 active cases across NNSA labs, plants and sites.

The last couple of weeks of November have been tough for the NNSA, marking the only two-week period in the pandemic when the agency saw back-to-back increases above the 250-case mark, plus back-to-back fatalities. 

Cases are up nearly across the board in the counties that host NNSA nuclear sites, with just about every host locale confirming more new cases during the holiday week than it did the week before.

Increase in Cases Slows at Labs

The NNSA’s nuclear-weapon laboratories, generally speaking, have more personnel teleworking — or staying home and collecting paid leave, thanks to federal pandemic bailout money available at least through Dec. 11 — than the production sites.

That might have helped stem the increases in new cases last week, when each of the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories recorded fewer new, confirmed cases of the disease than the week before, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had only one more new case than in the prior week.

Still, each lab continues to log more new cases each week than they did earlier in the pandemic. 

According to spokespersons, Los Alamos had logged a total of 289 confirmed cases as of last week, up 40 from the week before; Livermore had 87 total cases, up seven from the previous week; and Sandia had 270 cumulative cases, including 38 new cases in Albuquerque, N.M., plus two new cases in Livermore, Calif.