Recently in Coronavirus Category

Federal workers can be fired for refusing vaccination, but must show up to work until their cases are determined, new guidance says, Washington Post

"Federal employees can be fired for refusing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but as their disciplinary cases wind through the system, they will report to work alongside vaccinated colleagues, according to Biden administration guidance issued this week. The new guidance to implement a vaccine mandate for the government, which Biden announced last week, represents a reversal of the strategy the White House coronavirus task force pushed in August for those employees without shots who refused under an earlier plan to get regular testing for covid-19."

Frequently Asked Questions, Safer Federal Workforce

Biden to announce that all federal workers must be vaccinated, with no option for testing, AP

"President Joe Biden on Thursday will impose more stringent vaccine rules on federal workers, and take steps to encourage private businesses to do the same, during a major speech meant to lay out a new approach to combating the coronavirus. Among the steps the President will take is signing an executive order requiring all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out of the requirement, according to a source familiar with the plans. The President will also sign an executive order directing the same standard be extended to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government. The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service and National Institutes of Health will also complete their previously announced vaccination requirements, which the White House estimates covers 2.5 million workers."

- White House COVID Plan, White House
- Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, White House
- Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees, White House

President Biden to Announce New Actions to Get More Americans Vaccinated and Slow the Spread of the Delta Variant, White House

"Today, the President will announce that to help protect workers and their communities, every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel."

Beyer Applauds Vaccination Mandate For Federal Workforce

"U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents the largest number of federal employees of any member of the U.S. House of Representatives, today hailed the Biden-Harris Administration's announcement of a new requirement a requirement that all federal employees and contractors receive COVID-19 vaccinations or be tested regularly."

Biden plans to require federal workers to be vaccinated or undergo repeated tests, Washington Post

"We fully endorse a vaccine mandate," said Paul Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents some 25,000 federal workers at agencies such as NASA and the Defense Department. "We're in the middle of a pandemic, over 600,000 people are dead, and we don't want any more of our members dying."

- NASA Coronavirus Response Information
- Earlier posts

NASA Notice of availability of inventions for licensing: Human-Powered Ventilator

"The following application filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty is available for licensing: NASA Case No.: MSC-26813-1-PCT, Human-Powered Ventilator. The patent rights in this invention has been assigned to the United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any prospective license will comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404."

Inside NASA's Pandemic Response Campaigns

"Engineers at Johnson are offering a simpler ventilator solution, primarily for use in developing countries. As the pandemic unfolded, engineers who had developed a ventilator for use on the Orion spacecraft started updating it. The device is similar to human-powered ventilator bags used in ambulances, but those are squeezed by hand, which becomes tiring quickly. Johnson's ventilator is powered by larger muscle groups in the arms or even legs. It can be used to keep a patient alive for hours, perhaps while waiting for a bed to open up, said Kris Romig, technology transfer officer at Johnson."

Keith's note: Why isn't NASA talking about this? This is rather cool. It is 3-D printed, was designed for space but adapted for use on Earth. And it can be used in a wide array of locations including those with little or no resources - by the people who live there. Not only does it demonstrate the value of space technology's earthly applications it is also a source of potential soft power for NASA.

Imagine a remote village where this thing shows up with a NASA logo on the box - and their first interaction with America is via its space program. But wait: not so fast. NASA requires that you apply for a license to use this. Life saving inventions like this - developed at American taxpayer's expense - should be provided to anyone, anywhere with no constraints - especially as a global pandemic continues to rage in the places where people are often least capable of responding.

Oddly this release came out the other day - why is it that NASA requires a licensing process for the human powered respirator - which costs money and time to navigate - when the device could be saving lives as soon as someone uses a 3D printer to make it? Why doesn't NASA waive the patent rights as they have with all these other things and post the 3D printer file on GitHub or wherever they post the free stuff they share? I'd ask NASA PAO but they no longer answer questions. According to the Spinoff 2021 document (pages 67-68) there is some sort of effort to make it more widely available - but why go through this complicated process when you can simply post the file now?

NASA Software Benefits Earth, Available for Business, Public Use

Many of NASA's computational innovations were developed to help explore space, but the public can download them for applications that benefit us right here on Earth. The agency's latest software catalog has hundreds of popular programs, as well as more than 180 new ones, all available for free download. "From operations here on Earth to missions to the Moon and Mars, software is integral to all that NASA does," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "The good news is this technology is available to the public for free. The software suited for satellites, astronauts, engineers, and scientists as it is applied and adapted across industries and businesses is a testament to the extensive value NASA brings to the United States - and the world."

NASA Named Best Place to Work, No. 1 for COVID-19 Response

"For the ninth consecutive year, the Partnership for Public Service has ranked NASA as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government among large agencies and, new for 2020, has also ranked NASA No. 1 among large agencies for its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The rankings, announced Tuesday, reflect NASA's focus and dedication as it pursues missions, including sending humans farther into space than ever before. In 2020, the agency saw its highest employee satisfaction results since this index was developed."

Biden administration sets mid-July deadline to finalize agency reentry plans

"Agencies have until July 19 to submit employee and contractor reentry plans to the Office of Management and Budget, the Biden administration said Tuesday. Agencies must finalize their plans for both reopening offices and setting post-reentry procedures and policies by that date, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, in collaboration with OMB, the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration, said in an email. Those final plans will build on draft reentry plans, which agencies are supposed to submit to OMB by June 18. Agencies can, in phases, bring more employees and contractors back to their work sites after completing their final reentry plans, satisfying collective bargaining obligations and giving the workforce advanced notice, the task force said."

Keith's 22 April update: Sources report that despite pleading guilty to COVID-19 Related Loan Fraud Andrew (Nestor) Tezna still works at NASA - in his capacity of running the NASA CFO Policy & Grants Office as is shown in this org chart. He is still being paid for official duties related to the financial operations and integrity of NASA - even though this loan issue was discovered as long ago as December 2020. He led the COVID-19 response efforts and got an award for that. And apparently when he travelled - he approved his own travel orders.

Note: NASA only provides statements like this to some media - but not others: NASA executive spent $272,000 in COVID loans on pool, cars and dog breeder, feds say, News and Observer

"A representative from NASA did not confirm Tezna's current employment status but provided the following statement: "NASA is aware of reports concerning fraud charges brought against an employee unrelated to the individual's work for the agency," the statement reads. "NASA refers all inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over this ongoing matter."

But wait NASA says that "NASA is aware of reports concerning fraud charges"? Really - that's all? It is more than "reports about charges". Tezna pled guilty and will be sentenced on 16 July. Its over. And yet NASA is only aware of the "reports of charges"?

But the NASA OIG seems to take this far more seriously - from the DOJ release: "As a NASA senior executive, the Agency placed a great deal of trust in Tezna. Taking advantage of the CARES Act to fraudulently obtain PPP loans not only violated the Agency's trust, but the trust of American people that sought assistance for the legitimate needs of their struggling businesses," said Special Agent in Charge Mark J. Zielinski, NASA Office of Inspector General, Eastern Field Office."

I am trying to imagine what the reaction would have been for this guy to apply for his present position at NASA with this sort of criminal offense on his resume. I doubt they'd hire him to do government finances. That said, why does he still have those responsibilities after a guilty plea for financial crimes? In other words Why is Andrew Tezna still working at NASA?

Senior NASA Employee Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Related Loan Fraud, DOJ

"According to court documents, Andrew Tezna, 36, of Leesburg, fraudulently submitted three loan applications to two financial institutions (totaling $272,284) under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal initiative designed to help businesses pay their employees and meet their basic expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tezna also submitted two Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program applications to the Small Business Administration (totaling $69,500), and he applied for COVID-related unemployment benefits from Virginia, ostensibly for his mother-in-law, who was retired and did not qualify for the benefits (totaling $15,950). In support of the fraudulent PPP loan applications, Tezna submitted fabricated IRS tax returns and fraudulently claimed payroll expenses that did not exist."

Final Memorandum, COVID-19 Impacts on NASA's Major Programs and Projects (IG-21-016; A-20-010-00), NASA OIG

"A top-line estimate of the cost for these delays and challenges across NASA is estimated to be nearly $3 billion. However, NASA will not be able to quantify the complete impact of the pandemic on its programs and projects until after the COVID-19 emergency has subsided. This memorandum presents a snapshot of the reported estimated impacts to 30 of the Agency's major programs and projects (defined as those with life-cycle costs of at least $250 million) at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2020."

Keith's note:
Last night I tweeted a link to this update about mask issues at JSC and Michoud. Shortly thereafter Twitter started to "shadow ban" @NASAWatch i.e. limit the account's visibility. The only way to get out of this situation is to not tweet from @NASAWatch for a few days - perhaps a week. As such, to prevent this from happening again, I will no longer be able to tweet anything about the pandemic or NASA's response to it. It is good that Twitter seeks to get rid of fake news and inaccurate information about the pandemic but they have gone overboard in this situation by silencing actual news about an effort by JSC to keep their people safe.

9 March Reader update: "Today during a JSC 'townhall' the center management said to disregard the Governor's direction and wear masks, maintain reduced workplace capacity at about 30%, and maintain physical distancing. Also, they said to try and get vaccines from other local sources and not from the center as center capabilities are limited. And they said all of this while wearing masks."

Pandemic Comfort Food In Space

"Look closely: Wasabi peas, Ocean Spray Crasins, apricots, French's yellow mustard, Smuckers strawberry jam, and of course, Sriracha sauce - with Huggies velcroed on the wall to clean up astro faces after eating."

Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term, OSTP

"RETURNING TO SPACE EXPLORATION: Since reviving the National Space Council, President Trump established a whole-of-government effort to lead again in human space exploration, safeguard the space environment, promote national security, and streamline regulations to foster commercial space activities."

Advancing America's Global Leadership in Science & Technology - Trump Administration Highlights: 2017-2020 (report)

Keith's note: But wait: while OSTP's Director Kelvin Droegemeier crows about accomplishments in various areas of science and technology, there is this glowing error that is wholly untrue - one which should, at a minimum - cause you to question the veracity of claims made by OSTP i.e. "ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC". The pandemic has not been ended. Not even close since it is entering its most harrowing phase. To even suggest otherwise is to spew demonstrably false propaganda.

White House science office takes credit for 'ending' pandemic as infections mount, Politico

"The White House's science policy office on Tuesday ranked "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" atop the list of President Donald Trump's top first-term accomplishments, even as the country registers record amounts of infections and hospitals fill up again."

Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term, OSTP

"Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

COVID-19--The largest isolation study in history: the value of shared learnings from spaceflight analogs, Nature (Open source)

"The world is currently experiencing the largest isolation experiment in history. In an attempt to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic numerous countries across the world have been shutting down economies, education, and public life. Governments have mandated strict regulations of quarantine and social distancing in an unprecedented manner. The effects of these measures on brain, behavior, neuro-humoral and immunological responses in humans are largely unknown. Life science research for space exploration has a long history in using high-fidelity spaceflight analogs to better understand the effect of prolonged isolation and confinement on genes, molecules, cells, neural circuits, and physiological systems to behavior. We here propose to leverage the extensive experience and data from these studies and build a bridge between spaceflight research and clinical settings to foster transdisciplinary approaches to characterize the neurobehavioral effects on the immune system and vice versa. These approaches are expected to develop innovative and efficient health screening tools, diagnostic systems, and treatments to mitigate health risks associated with isolation and confinement on Earth and during future exploratory spaceflight missions."

Keith's note: For NASA: This week's NASA Spaceline just came out and this article is listed. DLR and ESA supported it and IBMP and NASA data were used - so this is an international effort. Not that the ISS was just waiting for COVID-19 to happen so as to justify its existence, but there are some real parallels between LEO and deep space exploration and the way that people are currently working in isolation on Earth due to COVID-19. If you want to make the ISS seen as being relevant to real world issues (and vice versa) then making more prominent mention of research space medicine/space biology such as this is an option you might consider.

Everyone on Earth is participating in a long duration space travel isolation analog to some extent. We all wish it would end, but since we're going to be in this situation for quite some time to come perhaps there is something that NASA can offer to foster an understanding of what people in isolation are going through - and that people going through this experience may have something to offer to NASA in response.

Standing Up For Science

NAS and NAM Presidents Alarmed By Political Interference in Science Amid Pandemic

"As advisers to the nation on all matters of science, medicine, and public health, we are compelled to underscore the value of science-based decision-making at all levels of government. Our nation is at a critical time in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic with important decisions ahead of us, especially concerning the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Policymaking must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated. We find ongoing reports and incidents of the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming. It undermines the credibility of public health agencies and the public's confidence in them when we need it most. Ending the pandemic will require decision-making that is not only based on science but also sufficiently transparent to ensure public trust in, and adherence to, sound public-health instructions. Any efforts to discredit the best science and scientists threaten the health and welfare of us all.

Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences

Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine"

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Aug. 31, 2020

"ANNOUNCEMENT: These difficult times can be especially trying for those with children at home or other dependent/caregiver responsibilities. As we head into the fall, and more schools opt to conduct classes virtually, I am pleased to announce that the agency is able to continue offering excused leave through March 2021. Supervisors should approve all requests, to the extent possible, and work with employees to ensure all available leave options and schedule flexibilities are considered."

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Aug. 17, 2020

"This week the agency's COVID-19 Response leadership and I will record a town hall to answer your questions and provide an update on the status of the agency. If you'd like to submit a question, please visit before the submission window closes tomorrow, Aug. 18, at noon EDT. You'll receive a NASA INC message with a link to the video once it is available for viewing Thursday, Aug. 20."

NASA Associate Administrator Memo: Moving Forward Together; Next Agency Town Hall,

"On Wednesday, Aug. 19, I will join Administrator Bridenstine, Deputy Administrator Morhard, and other agency leaders, to answer your questions about how we move forward together."

Keith's note: The questions used to be available here but NASA has removed the link. They ere all about COVID-19 and teleworking. If anyone has a link to the archived event we'd appreciate it if you'd post in in the comments.

NASA Associate Administrator Memo: Moving Forward Together; Next Agency Town Hall, NASA

"We're making steady progress safely returning mission-critical work on-site - yet another testament to the dedication of the NASA team. I, along with other agency leaders, am incredibly proud of the effort every NASA employee puts in every day to keep the mission moving forward. We also recognize that, with the approach of fall and the start of a new school year, many of us are dealing with even greater uncertainty. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, I will join Administrator Bridenstine, Deputy Administrator Morhard, and other agency leaders, to answer your questions about how we move forward together."

Keith's update: I just had a chat with GSFC management. In a nutshell this pandemic and telework has gone on longer than anyone expected and it will go on for quite some time - well into 2021. As such, people and policies need to constantly adapt to an uncertain and ever changing future. You can expect some clarification from GSFC management soon including a request from the GSFC workforce for employee input on how to better adjust existing rules, clarification of those rules and safety concerns, and the reality of trying to telework during a global pandemic.

Please try to help your management help you - and reciprocate when they seek your assistance.

Keith's 5:12 pm update: This is the response that NASA GSFC News Chief Dewayne Washington sent me: "We truly appreciate the innovative spirit displayed and sought to highlight the employee and her accomplishments. Upon further review, however, we don't have the ability to distribute lab equipment to all those who may request it or to validate the safety of uniquely-configured home lab workspaces. Moving forward, lab/technical equipment will remain on center. If access to the center is required for work, there's a process for approving proposed on-site work in Stage 3 and part of that process involves ensuring the proper workspace COVID-19 safety protocols are established for employees."

I sent a second inquiry to NASA PAO and GSFC management: "I have added a link on my original NASAWatch posting to the full text of the internal GSFC memo issued by Raymond Rubilotta which mentions the working at home issue stating "we will take appropriate action against those who violate this policy". I am trying to understand how GSFC can publicly praise someone and then publicly criticize the exact same activity that GSFC just publicly praised them for. Can you send me the text of the actual policy that governs doing this sort of work at home? Is this a GSFC-specific policy or a NASA-wide policy? I am certain a lot of my readers across the agency are going to view this inconsistency with some concern - as if they do not have enough to worry about already."

Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn't So Great After All, Wall Street Journal

"Four months ago, employees at many U.S. companies went home and did something incredible: They got their work done, seemingly without missing a beat. Executives were amazed at how well their workers performed remotely, even while juggling child care and the distractions of home. Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., among others, quickly said they would embrace remote work long term. Some companies even vowed to give up their physical office spaces entirely. Now, as the work-from-home experiment stretches on, some cracks are starting to emerge. Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren't developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs."

Keith's note: I have teleworked from home for more than 24 years. I have teleworked for a month at a time from Everest Base Camp at 17,600 feet and Devon Island 800 miles from the north pole. If I have comms and my fingers are not frozen, then I can work. Astronauts telework from the ISS. Its not impossible - but management and personnel have to adjust - and workflow needs to be capable of being performed remotely.

The one positive thing I expect (hope) to see NASA embrace as it endures and then emerges from this pandemic is the ability to conduct meaningful work regardless of one's physical location. Not everything is amenable to teleworking - but a lot of it is - much more than previously anticipated. Part of making teleworking happen is to redouble one's focus on collaboration. But there is an equal need to function independently and self-motivate. Some people will adapt and thrive. Others will not. Either way, we'll never become a spacefaring species if we can't expand our collective workspace beyond our cubicles.

Bowser says people coming from coronavirus hot spots must quarantine for 14 days when arriving in D.C, Washington Post

"Visitors arriving from most states to the nation's capital soon must self-quarantine for 14 days to help slow the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said her order, which takes effect Monday, will help the city battle a recent increase in coronavirus infections."

Keith's note: The maps shown on local TV news in DC show that the states under quarantine include Texas, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, California - and Oklahoma. So if you are the Administrator of NASA or an employee at NASA field centers you may not be visiting NASA HQ - or Goddard, Wallops, Langley - any time soon. And vice versa - unless you want to sit in a motel for 2 weeks. Virginia and Maryland exceed the limits as well but DC has not put them on the list.

The crisis that shocked the world: America's response to the coronavirus, Washington Post

"Six months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country's ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet. Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant."

Keith's note: And the same White House that has put 328.2 million Americans at risk of serious illness and death as a direct result of its incompetent and woefully ignorant understanding of basic Biology wants to go back to the Moon, to do "science" there, etc. How can we lead in space when we have failed so spectacularly on Earth?

Yes, you detect blatant editorial bias. Get used to it.

James Webb Space Telescope to launch in October 2021, ESA

"The launch of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is now planned for 31 October 2021. NASA has announced the decision, based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities before launch, accounting for impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and technical challenges. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021."

Florida reports biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths since pandemic started, Reuters

"Florida reported on Thursday the largest one-day increase in deaths from the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began and its second-largest increase in cases ever. Florida announced 13,965 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the state and the center of the latest outbreak to over 315,775, according to the state health department. Florida's COVID deaths rose by 156 to a total of 4,782, surpassing its previous one-day record of 133 new deaths on July 12."

COVID-19 surge continues as Texas reports records of 10,791 new cases, 110 deaths, Fort Worth Star Telegram

As Texas continues to struggle to contain COVID-19, the state reported on Wednesday a record 10,791 new coronavirus cases and a record 110 new deaths. Texas has reported more than 280,000 cases and 3,400 deaths, according to state data. It's estimated that more than 140,000 people have recovered. The state's seven-day positivity rate for testing is at 16.81%. Wednesday was the second day in a row that the state reported a record number of new cases. On Tuesday, it reported 10,745 new cases. Hospitalizations went down to 10,471 after a record 10,569 were reported Tuesday.

Keith's update: Infection rates are exploding in Florida, Texas, and California. Yet KSC, JSC, JPL, ARC, and Armstrong are still at Stage 3 - not stage 4. But other centers (GSFC, WFF, GISS) in states with low - and declining - infections surges are at stage 4 according to NASA. There seems to be an inconsistency in how NASA rates the severity of this crisis based on what is going on outside the gate.

California closes indoor restaurants, movie theaters and all bars statewide as coronavirus cases rise, CNBC

"Newsom said the state recorded 8,358 new cases on Sunday. The state's positivity rate, or the percentage of all tests returning positive, has ticked up to 7.4%. "The data suggests not everyone is acting with common sense," Newsom said at a press conference Monday. California hospitals also reported an increase in the number of coronavirus patients, growing 28% over a two-week period, he said. There were 6,485 people hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Sunday."

Florida shatters US record of single-day Covid-19 cases, CNN

The Florida Department of Health reported 15,299 new Covid-19 cases Sunday, the highest number of new cases reported in a single day by any state since the coronavirus pandemic began. The previous record -- also set by Florida -- came on July 4, with 11,434 new cases reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The test positivity rate in Florida is 19.60%, according to JHU statistics.

Houston leaders call for lockdown as county reports more than 27,600 active coronavirus cases, CBS

Houston leaders are calling for another lockdown as the number of active cases of the coronavirus in the county increased to more than 27,600 on Sunday. Houston's Harris County -- the most populous county in Texas -- has been the hardest-hit in the Lone Star State. "Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted Sunday. "Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let's learn from that & not make the same mistake twice."

Coronavirus: Texas governor mandates wearing of face masks, CNN

"Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that all Texans don face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases. Texas has seen a surge of hospital admissions in recent days, hitting a record high of more than 8,000 virus cases in a single day on Wednesday. "Wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business," Mr Abbott said, announcing the order. After an initial warning, those who refuse will face a fine up to $250."

Coronavirus: Florida reports 10,109 new cases of COVID-19, WPLG

"Florida reported 10,109 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking the state's one-day record yet again as leaders work to prevent further spread over the July 4 holiday weekend. The previous record for a single day was 9,585 cases reported Saturday. Just two weeks ago, the state's single-day record was 3,207 cases."

Coronavirus updates: California shuts down many indoor businesses ahead of July 4, Sacramento Bee

"Faced with infection and hospitalization figures worsening by the day for more than two weeks, California is beginning its first major reversal of economic reopening from the raging coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 counties with troubling COVID-19 trends to immediately close a wide slate of nonessential indoor businesses for at least three weeks. The group of counties, which includes Sacramento and Los Angeles, combine for about 70 percent of the state's population."

Alabama students throwing 'COVID parties' to see who gets infected: Officials, ABC

"Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday."

Florida breaks new daily record with 9,585 coronavirus cases, Orlando Sentinel

"The Florida Department of Health reported 9,585 new coronavirus cases Saturday, shattering the previous daily high for positive COVID-19 infections made just the day before. The state has now registered 132,545 positive cases to date. The previous record for a single-day increase of 8,942 cases was reported Friday, followed by 5,508 cases reported Wednesday."

Texas Gov. Orders Bars To Close, Reduces Restaurant Seating As COVID-19 Cases Surge, NPR

"The rollbacks come amid a statewide surge of new coronavirus infections. On Thursday, the state health department reported 5,996 new cases, the third day in a row of record-high new infections in the state. The rate of positive test results, as of Wednesday, is also approaching 12%. "As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the state of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Abbott said."

L.A. County faces 'critical moment' as coronavirus cases keep surging, LA Times

"Another day of big increases in both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations prompted health officials Saturday to warn Los Angeles County is entering a "critical moment" and that some of the easing of stay-at-home orders are in jeopardy unless the trend changes."

Keith's 28 June note: Infection rates are soaring in Florida, Texas, and California. Yet KSC, JSC, JPL, ARC, and Armstrong are still at Stage 3 - not stage 4. But other centers (GSFC, WFF, GISS) in states with declining infections surges are at stage 4 according to NASA. There seems to be an inconsistency.

Keith's 29 June update:

NASA issued this COVID-19 update today which really does not say much of anything other than confirmed cases are increasing and check the NASA website for updates.

June 29 Update on NASA's Response to Coronavirus

"The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in states where many of us work and live necessitates heightened vigilance and personal responsibility by all NASA employees and contractors."

Alabama sees second highest total for daily coronavirus cases, records 25 more deaths, Al,com

"Alabama added 954 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a large increase over case counts from recent days, and the second highest single-day uptick since the start of the pandemic. The new cases pushed the state's 7-day rolling average up to almost 673, an 80-case increase over Tuesday's average."

New record: Florida sees all-time high of 5,511 newly reported COVID-19 cases, Click Orlando

"As Florida pushes forward on its path to reopening, state health officials continue to report what Gov. Ron DeSantis called an "explosion" of COVID-19 cases. Across the state, new cases of the novel coronavirus are reported by the thousands, with infection numbers surpassing those seen when the pandemic first caused the state to shut down. The Florida Department of Health reported a record-shattering 5,511 new cases of COVID-19 since approximately the same time the day before, as well as 43 new deaths and 258 more hospitalizations. This is the most cases reported in a single day since the pandemic hit Florida in early March."

Gov. Gavin Newsom prepared to 'revert back' to stringent COVID-19 restrictions as CA sees increase in cases, KABC

"Gov. Gavin Newsom says he is prepared to "revert back" to more stringent coronavirus restrictions, if necessary, as California continues to see a rise in cases. During a routine update Monday on COVID-19's impact throughout the state, Newsom stressed the importance for individuals to "mitigate the likelihood and need" to reverse course by being mindful of their actions as more aspects of the economy are reopened."

Gov. Greg Abbott recommends Texans stay home as coronavirus cases surge, Texas Tribune

"Unless you do need to go out, the safest place for you is at your home." Within hours, Abbott made two announcements to alter the reopening process. He scaled back a previous statewide order and gave local officials the ability to place restrictions on outdoor gatherings of over 100 people, a threshold he originally set at 500 people. And Abbott said the state would enact mandatory health standards for child care centers after prior rules became voluntary earlier this month."

Top Challenges Facing Federal Agencies: COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Response Efforts (NASA Excerpt)

"As of May 5, 2020, NASA has committed approximately $8.5 million of the $60 million in emergency funding. The majority of the committed funds relate to contractor impact claims, information technology services, and cleaning supplies. Future use of the remaining funds are expected to include increased cleaning efforts at each NASA facility as well as purchases of personal protective equipment."

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Horn Holds Bipartisan Teleconference on NASA's Response to COVID-19

"Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a bipartisan teleconference with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Dr. Mike Watkins, Director at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The purpose of the teleconference was for Members to discuss NASA's uniquely skilled workforce and their activities and role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL), which was designed and developed by JPL engineers in 37 days."

NASA's Approach to Increasing On-Site Work & Town Hall Transcript

"As these conditions become safer, there will be a phased and gradual return to work at agency centers and facilities. We know it has to be at a "condition level" where you really do feel safe. If you do not feel comfortable working on-site, or returning to work on-site, please talk to your supervisor about options to address your concerns. We will make every effort to provide alternate work arrangements without reservation or reprisal. Those who can accomplish their job via telework are encouraged to continue doing so."

Keith's note: Look what I stumbled across in a Google news alert for "Ames Research Center": "Founder of Philadelphia life sciences firms targets RNA as key to knocking out Covid-19 "Aishwarya said his companies are already collaborating on Covid-19 research and related programs with Dr. Afshin Beheshti, principal Investigator at the NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Masad Damha and his collaborators at McGill University in Canada, and three U.S. universities he could not name for confidentiality reasons."

Hmmm ... that's news to me, so I did some Googling and found this at NASA Ames: Space Biosciences Research Branch Scientists Lead Projects Supporting the COVID-19 HPC Consortium "We have enrolled COVID-19 patients in a research study to examine their host transcriptional responses over time. From this data we will design drug targets and develop and test with in vivo models. Our team (consisting of 30 scientists) has expertise in coronaviruses, RNA-Seq methods, drug design, building therapeutic platforms, and SARS-CoV-2 mouse models."

Which led me to find this GeneLab AWG Collaborates on New COV-IRT Website "Afshin Beheshti of NASA GeneLab is a co-founder of COV-IRT, an international research team using a large consortium open science model to efficiently and rapidly improve understanding of COVID-19. The Consortium COVID-19 project was initiated by scientists who are members of the NASA GeneLab Multi-Omics Analysis Working Group (AWG) led by Beheshti from NASA Ames Research Center."

And then I found this: @NASAGeneLab #NASAGeneLab's Multi-omics Analysis Working Group launches COVID-19 International Research Team that uses a large consortium #openscience model to efficiently and rapidly improve understanding of #COVID19. Learn more on their new website: #NASA #genomics

Yes NASA has several things online - but you need to already know to look for them before you find them. Oddly, no mention is made here in the press release issued after Jim Bridenstine's recent media event: NASA Contributes Expertise, Ingenuity to COVID-19 Fight or here at NASA's Coronavirus Response website. Unless I missed something NASA has not issued a press release about this. So the news media have to resort to stumbling across this interesting and relevant like I did. NASA Ames can't even be bothered to put it on their home page.

Really NASA - how hard is it to cobble together a 4 paragraph press release with a few links?

NASA Live Virtual Town Hall

NASA Adminstrator Jim Bridenstine: "I will host a live virtual town hall at 10:30 am EDT Wednesday, May 6 along with other agency leaders to answer your questions about the agency's approach to increasing on-side work. Please read this message, then, to submit questions, go to and click on "Ask The Administrator: Return to On-Site Work". Enter your center name, then post your question and/or vote up questions already posted."

Message From The NASA Adminstrator: Planning for Increased On-Site Work - Town Hall

"The response of NASA's workforce to the challenges stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Across the agency, I have seen individuals and teams find new ways to keep the mission moving forward, support each other, balance work and family, and even dedicate their expertise and personal time to aid in the national response. Now that operations have reached a steady cadence, a lot of folks are wondering about the when and howof returning to "normal." As we plan how best to increase on-site work, please know that we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the workforce."

Keith's note: The event will air live on NASA TV.

Unlike NASA, sheriff asks people to come to Brevard to see historic space launch

"Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey is encouraging people to come to Brevard County to watch the scheduled May 27 historic launch of a SpaceX rocket with two astronauts aboard. .. But Ivey's invitation runs contrary to a NASA recommendation for people to watch the launch on television. Administrator Jim Bridenstine reiterated that call on Friday during a pre-launch news conference ahead of the May 27 mission."

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine has asked people to "join us for this launch - but do so from home. We are asking people not to travel to Kennedy Space Center." Meanwhile the local Sheriff says c'mon down folks. Stay tuned.

Will People Really Stay Away From The SpaceX Crew Launch? (Update), earlier post

SpaceX launch: local officials scramble to plan for crowds on heels of coronavirus, Florida Today

"The launch is set for May 27, but Gov. DeSantis has not indicated yet what will be reopened by then. The governor did say Tuesday during a trip to the White House that he will make an announcement Wednesday about "Phase 1" of his reopening plan for Florida. "We're gonna approach it in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way, and I think that's what most of the folks throughout the state are looking for," DeSantis said as he sat next to President Donald Trump. Malik agrees with this plan. "I'm hoping by then things are better. I like the phased approach of opening some things up. We can't go from zero to 100 in a second," Malik said. But his goal is for hotels, restaurants and beaches to be open by the May 27 launch date. Now local officials are racing to devise a plan to deal with any crowds that do show up, even if it is comprised mostly of local residents cramming the beaches."

Florida governor: Keep movie theaters closed, no sporting events until 'far in the future', Politico

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is still formulating a plan to reopen Florida's economy, said on Saturday he does not envision movie theaters or bars opening any time soon -- or allowing sporting events with fans until "far in the future." DeSantis this week has contended that Florida's "measured" approach to shutting down the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic has "flattened the curve." The Republican governor set up a task force to examine reopening the economy, and he is supposed to start reviewing its recommendations next week."

Keith's note: A few days ago Jim Bridenstine asked people to "join us for this launch - but do so from home. We are asking people not to travel to Kennedy Space Center." OK, so what happens when the Governor of Florida starts to push hard to open more things up - like the beaches around KSC? What happens if the White House decides that this launch is something that that they want people to cheer on? NASA and the White House have been hyping the "launch Americans in American rockets from American soil again" thing for years. I have seen launches from just about every location around the Cape and there is no way you are going to enforce meaningful social distancing on the causeways or beaches. People are going to want to see this - and all of us space fans are happy that they do..

But ... "Allowing sporting events with fans until 'far in the future.' " Hmm ... rocket launches with tens of thousands of people on the causeways and highways all huddled together certainly bears some similarity to sporting events. I wonder if launches are included in this broad categorization of things. 27 May is only one month away. How does "far in the future" relate to the next month? Stay tuned.

NASA to Announce Commercial Human Lander Awards for Artemis Moon Missions, NASA

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 30, to announce the companies selected to develop modern human landing systems (HLS) that will carry the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024 and develop sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade. Audio of the call will stream online at:"

Agencywide Message To All NASA Employees: Update on Official Travel for May and June

"NASA leadership continues to assess upcoming travel for the month of May and June as well as monitoring conferences and other events. Out of an abundance of caution, the agency continues to restrict all domestic and international travel. Only mission-critical travel will be considered and a Request for Travel Exception form must be submitted prior to travel. If you have approved travel in the system for May, please check with your supervisor to ensure that the travel is considered mission critical and that an exception form has been approved; otherwise, please work with your travel arranger to cancel your trip."

Keith's note: One would assume that going to KSC - just to see a launch - is not considered "mission critical". Let's see if this applies to other government entities seeking to visit NASA facilities for launches - like the White House and Congress.

NASA Internal Memo: Website Modernization and Enhanced Security Protocols 15 May 2019 (PDF)

"Currently there are an estimated 3,000 public-facing NASA Web sites, yet the top 10 sites receive 80 percent of all Web traffic. Additionally, some NASA partners operate Web sites on our behalf outside of the Agency, creating redundancy and accumulating unnecessary costs. Not only does this duplication of information cause confusion, each Wen site provides potential access for a cyber-attack on NASA's assets. The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites. We need to take steps to protect our resources in a hostile cyber landscap, examine our digital footprint, reduce costs, and maximize the effectiveness of communications efforts. In addition to security risk, multiple sites dilute our effectiveness in communicating key messages about our missions."

Keith's update: OK. In 2 weeks it will have been a year since the NASA Administrator told NASA to get its whole Internet act together. Has anyone actually done anything called for in his memo? The CIO shows no evidence of having done so (no surprise). She is leaving NASA this week - so there won't be much incentive to pick up this task there. As for PAO they seem to be perfectly content to list multiple NASA maintained websites for the same mission in their press releases. It is not even clear who is responsible for implementing this directive. I have heard that the task was tossed into the Chief Scientist's lap - that makes no sense. SMD issued a memo about this in September 2019 yet little seems to have been done since then.

In last year's memo Jim Bridenstine said "The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites." Here we are a year later with an even more extensive shutdown - with everyone, everywhere - relying upon the Internet - for everything. The whole #NASAatHome thing is great but it lacks an overall strategy. Its like HBO and Showtime making everything free for a month so you can binge watch. NASA simply takes everything it has and throws it out at everyone - everywhere. They have so many websites and Twitter accounts that there is little, if any, strategic coordination between these various efforts. They are counting on sheer volume. Soon the content is going to get stale. Then what? It's like a monstrous swarm of bees - NASA lets them loose and eventually they will sting something, somewhere.

One would hope that this second dose of living and communicating virtually will finally get the message through to NASA. Your cool stuff often gets out to people in spite of your efforts to communicate - and not always because of these efforts.

It takes more than a Twitter hashtag and a few buzz words to coordinate things, NASA. Sure, you'll get a sugar rush when the SpaceX and Mars 2020 launches happen - but then its back to the same old, same old. We're all in this remote collaboration thing for the long haul. Its time to start thinking that way.

- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice UPDATE: Three Times, earlier post
- NASA's Confusing ICESAT-2 Websites, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post

COVID-19 Is The Borg

Keith's note: As a biologist who once ran science review panels on infectious disease for several government agencies at one point in my career, it is frustrating to see rocket scientists pontificate about viral epidemiology. So, for the record, from a rocket science/Sci-fi point of view:

This COVID-19 pandemic is all about Biology. It involves the virus SARS-CoV-2, a relentless molecular machine that has one design role - to copy itself. It uses animal bodies - including human bodies - as factories. The closer that human bodies are to each other the faster this thing can copy itself to other human bodies so as to copy itself again and then spread and copy itself again. It does not care about who you voted for since it does not have the ability to care. Your job is irrelevant since it works for free. It cannot read the Constitution.

SARS-CoV-2 is a simple machine that does one thing and does it well. Our defenses are imperfect and vary from one human host to another. The illnesses that often result are a side effect of human bodies reacting to being taken over as virus factories. Once you get sick you have likely already completed your job as a virus factory by spreading the virus - often before you even got sick - even if you did not get sick. You are disposable.

With regard to "Herd immunity": If you decide to just let humans (or any other animal) interact freely more of them will get infected, get sick (or maybe not) and then recover and have some immunity. Or they die. Eventually the infected people who survived will no longer be infectious. As a result the statistical probability that any one person can be infected eventually drops since there are fewer infected people to infect others who are not infected. That is "Herd immunity". But those people who have not been infected are still just as vulnerable to the virus and all of its deadly effects. It is only the probability that an infectious human can infect them that goes down.

OK so let's do the herd immunity thing. By opening up free interaction between humans you knowingly allow the disease to kill more people. You also run the risk of the infection process getting out of control and possibly swamping your health systems.This can, in turn, cause more people to die due to lack of health care than would otherwise be the case if you limited human to human interaction and the number of sick people seeking health care at any given time. Or you can develop a vaccine/cure and stop the ability of the virus to infect and spread. And that takes time - even when a crash program is undertaken. Or you can keep humans apart - which is what we are all doing.

This molecular machine is "novel". We still do not totally understand how it works. We do not know all of the ways it affects its human factory hosts. Our current collective ignorance leaves us vulnerable. If you are a Star Trek fan then imagine the Borg as "nanites". That is what SARS-CoV-2 is. Right now reistance is futile. But staying apart from other humans to slow the spread is not. So stay apart until a vaccine and/or proven treatments are developed.

If NASA can talk to - and reprogram - the Voyagers in interstellar space then its employees can certainly figure out how to get through this.

President Trump and NASA Administrator Bridenstine on Coronavirus Technology Video

Trump: "NASA was dead as a doornail and then we reinvigorated it."


Keith's note: Yesterday NASA PAO denied access to some media covering the COVID-19 invention press event and sent screwy, broken links to others such that the only way to know what was going on was to listen to a black screen Youtube video with narration as objects where shown to a camera. For today's White House visit there was no advance notice that this was going to happen. We all learned about this event officially from NASA after the fact when the NASA PAO chief retweeted someone else's tweet - after news media had retweeted it. It is as if PAO just makes this all up as they go.

NASA can't even be bothered to post this on their home page (screen grab at 5:33 pm EDT) or on @NASA - but I can post news about it sitting in my basement. Update 25 April 4:30 pm EDT - still no mention at

Keith's note: Nearly a week ago I sent a note to the folks at NASA HQ who worry about unauthorized use of the NASA logos and inaccurate claims of NASA endorsement of products or services. No one from NASA bothered to respond. It would seem my warning/inquiry had little effect since you can still buy this NASA logo branded thing online that claims "ReSPR SeLF's NASA Authorized edition utilizes proprietary technology based on NASA research. The SeLF generates a powerful ionic wind, creating a 5 cubic foot shield of more than 7 million unipolar charged ions that prevents particles from entering your breathing space."

Strange that NASA allows stuff like this to stay online with overt claims of NASA endorsement while NASA PAO is overtly promoting COVID-19 inventions that the agency has created. Is there no reality check function operating at NASA any more?

NASA Develops COVID-19 Prototype Ventilator in 37 Days

"A new high-pressure ventilator developed by NASA engineers and tailored to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients passed a critical test Tuesday at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, an epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States."

NASA Contributes Expertise, Ingenuity to COVID-19 Fight, NASA

"On April 1, NASA launched an agencywide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK for how the agency can leverage its expertise and capabilities to help the nation with this unprecedented crisis. In just two weeks, 250 ideas were submitted, more than 500 comments were submitted, and more than 4,500 votes were cast."

NASA to Host Media Call Today on Contributions to COVID-19 National Response, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and other agency leaders and experts will host a media video conference at 4:30 p.m. EDT today, Thursday, April 23, to discuss how the agency is channeling its expertise and ingenuity to help the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19)."

Keith's 4:40 pm note: You can watch/listen to this event here: NASA PAO has refused to provide me with the dial-in information - despite having sent a request to the designated PAO representative more than 3 hours ago. So here is my question - doubtful that I will get an answer. "WIll NASA be filing patents for these COVID-19 ideas or will the information be released without intent to patent or under a Creative Commons license since these ideas were provided by NASA civil servants? If there is intellectual property that needs to be protected by patenting or other formal processes how long will that take and how will it delay the release of these ideas for use to reply during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?"

Keith's update: Only after I complained by email and Twitter to PAO did I get a Webex invitation from PAO for an event that was already 40 minutes underway. When I clicked on the start link in the email NASA sent me I was downloading software that cannot be opened due to a malicious software error originating at By the time I reinstalled the software that was now screwed up the event was over. I give up.

P.S. other media folks were complaining about crashing and malfunctioning webcasts too.

Trump adviser suggests reopening economy by putting 'everybody in a space outfit', The Week

"One of President Trump's economic advisers has an admittedly "crazy" idea for how to reopen the country amid the coronavirus pandemic: space outfits. "I was thinking this morning, and this is just kind of a thought experiment because I was thinking about this -- why don't we just put everybody in a space outfit or something like that?" Moore asked. "No. Seriously." The Times noted to Miller that "well, we'd have to make the space outfits," a fact he acknowledged while continuing to spitball. "I mean, just thinking out loud, and maybe this is a crazy idea, but instead of just locking down the economy, putting everybody in a kind of -- you're right," Moore said. "You have to make 200 million of these, but it wouldn't have cost $3 trillion to do that. ... I mean, I was looking online, and there are all these kinds of suits that they're building now that you're not exposed and you're breath -- kind of ventilator."

Keith's note: You would think that there would be more in terms of safety for the ASAP to discuss in a pubic meeting during a period when NASA is getting ready to launch the first crew from American soil in nearly a decade - and a billion dollar Mars rover in July - given that virtually the entire agency is working from home and will be for many weeks - perhaps months - to come. Apparently not.

Highlights: On the ground Artemis planning continues while anything having to do with hardware is on hold. The human lander solicitation choices will be announced soon. SpaceX is more or less ready to go for its crewed flight while Boeing still has another un-crewed (re)flight and lots of work to do. Orion parachute tests are moving ahead. There are only 3 people on ISS right now. This means half the crew time and limited EVA capabilities (so EVAs are on hold). Crew size will eventually increase to 6 once commercial crew flights start up. Due to scheduling issues there may be a U.S. seat on Soyuz flights and a Russian seat on U.S. commercial flights. ISS lifetime operation plans until 2028 may be affected by aging systems so ASAP wants NASA to identify whatever systems might pose a failure risk prior to 2028 and offer up a plan to replace or repair these systems.

As noted below there was some discussion about de-orbiting the ISS. ASAP credits itself with getting NASA to talk about their plans. Oddly, the program has had a requirement to de-orbit the ISS since the program began back in the 1990s - and before that in the Space Station Freedom program. Indeed we posted an overview of that plan back in 1999. As such it is a little weird that NASA would say that they have no plan to de-orbit ISS - especially given all of the various lifetime discussions that have been going on.

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - April 20, 2020

"Our agency's efforts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and continue our mission are very impressive. Our Perseverance Mars rover is making final steps to launch this summer, mission schedules for the first human launches in the Commercial Crew Program are being set, and our OSIRIS-REx team completed the first practice run for landing the spacecraft on the asteroid Bennu despite the added difficulty of working remotely. The work we are doing is inspiring."

Coping with Isolation

Message From The NASA Administrator: Coping with Isolation: Tips from the Pros, NASA

"Living in isolation is a concept with which NASA psychologists and astronauts are extremely familiar. For 60 years, NASA astronauts have been in space sometimes for months at a time, in small cohorts, with limited contact with their loved ones on Earth. Astronauts can provide excellent guidance for all of us as we navigate life during these times of social isolation."

- Space Travel Offers Lessons On Dealing With Confinement
- The Parallels Between Space Missions And COVID-19 Isolation

The Mission NASA Doesn't Want to Postpone, The Atlantic

"In this moment, an astronaut launch might seem to be the opposite of everything Americans have been instructed to do to protect themselves and one another: Flinging people outward doesn't quite line up with a growing nationwide impulse to turn inward. The mission would unfold against a truly unprecedented backdrop; even wars and national strife, one space historian told me, haven't posed a challenge to the U.S. space program like this pandemic has." ... "The space community often considers themselves a different level of somewhat unique and special in not having to adhere to the same rules as others--because what they're doing is so important, it should still be done," Garver said. "I will not be surprised if the public finds it not what they would view as 'essential.'" I just think most people will say, 'Well, people are dying here.'"

Keith's 14 April note: A substantial number of states have decided that liquor stores, vaping shops, and marijuana businesses are "essential" and must be allowed to stay open. No one seems to be questioning the risk taken by the people who work there or frequent these businesses to say nothing of the adverse risks that using these substances have on people who catch the virus. Major league team sports are talking about ways to play their games in closed stadiums (which still require lots of people to operate) and every one seems to be happy about that. And everyone is ordering groceries from home to be safe - even if an army of people is required to risk their health to deliver that food.

Update: pro-wrestling has been declared an essential business in the state of Florida. Yes, pro wrestling.

If NASA and SpaceX have all personnel and resources required to safely - let me repeat safely - and the people involved volunteer to take the risks - and meet all aspects of mission operations they should go ahead with the launch. The people who manage and work at NASA and SpaceX are smart and understand the value of a safe workplace under COVID-19 constraints. In the end Jim and Elon will assess whether their people want to do this.

I think the public as a whole understands the importance of things such as missions to explore space. We all need something to aspire to right now - and hope that there will be a future out there when this nightmare is over.

Hope is essential - certainly much more so than beer, pot, and the playoffs.

Keith's 19 April update: Just as long as everyone involved in this launch is safe - and feels safe - and wants to make this happen - then they should be allowed to make this happen.

Despite coronavirus, NASA and SpaceX aim to launch astronauts in May, Florida Today

"NASA has a space station to operate and we aren't de-crewing it because of the virus," said James Muncy, a Washington, D.C.-based space policy consultant. "Carrying off a first, safe Commercial Crew mission needs to happen for the nation to operate the station and to continue what we're doing in space." "It would be better if we didn't have this pandemic and it would be better if a million people could come to Florida and fill up hotel rooms and you would get the full economic benefit of that first launch," he said. "But NASA has to keep moving in space." ... Lori Garver, former deputy administrator of NASA, said her views "evolved this week" after recognizing the pandemic could last a year or more. "If the workforce is safe and SpaceX and NASA are ready - I agree it is a priority," she said. "The U.S. has spent about $150 billion on ISS and it can't postpone (astronaut) exchange and supplies that long."

NASA Administrator Message: NASA@Work - As Only NASA Can, NASA

"As NASA teams worked on several national and local response efforts, leadership called on the entire workforce for additional ideas of how the agency's capabilities can help with the national COVID-19 response. In just two weeks, we received over 250 ideas via our internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK - about five times the average number of responses we've seen for other NASA@WORK challenges. Thank you to everyone who offered ideas as well as those who logged in to view, comment and vote on the submissions. More than 500 comments and over 4,500 votes were cast, demonstrating the widespread interest in collaboration the NASA community has to contribute to ideas."

Keith's note: So ... will the public ever get to see these NASA@WORK ideas?

Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK, earlier post

Space Shuttle Discovery: Old Friend, New Neighbor, Earlier post, 17 April 2012

"As I sat in my home office in Reston, a few miles from Dulles, and watched the flyover on TV, it became clear that people were dropping what they were doing to go outside to catch a glimpse. Discovery arrived early in DC airspace so it just kept circling around and around, thus increasing the viral buzz online and on TV. Soon, I heard reports of hundreds of cars pulled over on local freeways and people standing on car roofs. So, I hopped into my car and drove toward Dulles airport. Within minutes I started to see cars pulled over for no reason. As soon as I got onto the airport itself the roads were lined thick on either side with cars - and more were parking every second. People had walked up onto bridges where you never see pedestrians. Others congregated in the grassy regions inside of entrance and exit ramps. Again, these are places you simply never see people - much less crowds. This was an immense flash mob that appeared so fast that the police did not have time to respond. No one was directing traffic yet everyone seemed to be cool about being considerate and safe."

Message From The NASA Associate Administrator: Planning a Return to On-Site Work, NASA

"First, let me say that no decisions have been made at the agency level to move away from the current operational state at headquarters and the centers. But, the questions of how and when we return to on-site work are on everyone's minds these days as we see the curve of coronavirus infection beginning to flatten in portions of the United States and the national conversation shifting to how we get back to "normal."

NASA's Curiosity Team Operates A Mars Rover From Home

"For people who are able to work remotely during this time of social distancing, video conferences and emails have helped bridge the gap. The same holds true for the team behind NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. They're dealing with the same challenges of so many remote workers - quieting the dog, sharing space with partners and family, remembering to step away from the desk from time to time - but with a twist: They're operating on Mars."

In Response to COVID-19, Space Dynamics Lab Satellite Operators "Fly" Small Sats from Home, Space Dynamics Laboratory

"The Space Dynamics Laboratory announced today that satellite operators are flying NASA spacecraft from their homes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The emphasis on social distancing and stay-at-home work has become ubiquitous throughout the world and has affected sectors of many industries, including the space industry. In response to disruptions of normal work methods due to the global pandemic, SDL satellite operators have successfully shifted operations of two NASA small satellites away from traditional Mission Operations Centers to alternative flight centers--their living rooms."

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - April 13, 2020, NASA

"Determining to help others in times of distress rather than focusing only on your own needs is a great demonstration of character. I have been overwhelmed by the many stories of how the NASA team is helping their coworkers and our various communities across the nation. Every effort, whether big or small is significant. For example, the NASA at Home website's collective efforts have garnered more than 483,000 page views and 89,000 mentions on social media that potentially reached more than 4 billion people! There is no doubt that people across the world appreciate the lengths our team will go to help during this unprecedented pandemic. You are making a difference when people need it the most. Thank you!"

236th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society Goes Virtual

"The 236th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), originally scheduled 31 May to 4 June in Madison, Wisconsin, will instead be held online, 1-3 June. The AAS Board of Directors decided to make this move in alignment with worldwide efforts to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Most of our Madison plenary lecturers and other presenters have committed to join us for this virtual experience, which will be held jointly with the AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD)."

International Astronautical Congress, Global Space Exploration Conference, Global Space Conference on Climate Change - All Postponed, IAF

"Following the growing escalation of the Covid-19 outbreak around the world, the IAF is saddened to inform you that the International Astronautical Congress - IAC in Dubai will not be taking place this year, but will be postponed. We are in the process of re-assessing the overall schedule of IACs and will inform you within the coming weeks about the new dates. As a consequence, the Call for Applications to Host the IAC in 2023 is suspended and a new Call for Hosting IAC 2024 will be opened in November 2020. ... Also, the Global Space Exploration Conference - GLEX 2020 in St. Petersburg, and the Global Space Conference on Climate Change - GLOC 2021 in Oslo will be postponed by a year to 2021 and 2022 respectively. New dates will be communicated in the coming months."

Message From The NASA Administrator: Prioritize Your Health & Safety, NASA

"The health and safety of the NASA workforce is our top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. For that reason, I want to re-emphasize a point I raised during our March 25 town hall - any employee who is reporting to work on-site but does not feel comfortable continuing to do so should not be afraid to raise that concern with his or her supervisor. Alternate work arrangements will be made without reprisal."

Keith's note: My next door neighbor who has often been a surrogate mother to me after I lost mine is in the hospital with COVID-19. The mother of one of my close friends is also in the hospital with COVID-19. And I just learned this morning that a friend's father died from COVID-19 yesterday. To everyone reading these words: this will happen to someone you know - someone you care about. Perhaps even you. Do what Jim says to do and we'll all get beyond this.

Keith's update: My elderly neighbor is now home after 1 week and a half in the hospital with COVID-19. My friend Scott's family is not doing well. It would be wise to heed his advice.

Space Medicine Research Program Focuses on People Struggling with Confinement - Online resource addresses stress, depression and conflict, Dartmouth College

"These resources are meant to make anyone better at stress management, depression treatment and conflict resolution," said Dr. Jay Buckey, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine. "These are self-help tools. The individual is doing the work. The tools offer practical things that people can do in any environment." Buckey, a former astronaut and currently the director of Geisel's Space Medicine Innovations Lab, flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1998. Buckey and his research colleagues at Dartmouth, Harvard, and UCLA developed the tools over more than a decade."

Former Astronaut Teaches COVID-19 Management Course

"As scientists, doctors, and governments try to get a grip on COVID-19, surgeon and partner of ES4P David Joyce, MD MBA, and Emergency Medical physician and former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, MD, are partnering to offer a new online course on COVID-19 for healthcare providers."

The Parallels Between Space Missions And COVID-19 Isolation

"Jack Stuster has been conducting studies for NASA on how crews live and work in space and the parallels that can be found with expeditions on Earth for decades. He has provided this commentary about confinement and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the parallels within his studies."

- Personal Note About The Pandemic: Be Mark Watney, earlier post
- Social Isolation Tips From Astronaut Leroy Chiao, earlier post
- Things Are About To Get Bad Folks. But Then It Will Get Better., earlier post

Message From The NASA Associate Administrator: Prioritizing Health & Safety, NASA

"If you have signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, or test positive for COVID-19:
- Stay home and immediately call your private health care provider to determine the safest way to access care.
- Do not go to your center occupational health clinic. They are not set up to isolate patients.
- Follow your health care provider's recommendations about care and recovery.
- Notify your supervisor. Employee medical information will be protected.
- Once you are symptom free, notify your supervisor. Your supervisor will consult with the center medical staff to determine when it's safe for you to return to work."

NASA Bans Use Of Zoom

NASA Internal Memo: NASA's Authorized Internal and External Collaboration Tools, NASA CIO

"The NASA CIO has worked for the past several years to establish a consistent and modern set of tools to support both internal and external collaboration. While there is still work to do to support some of the more complex use-cases, such as sharing sensitive data with foreign partners, many others are met through Agency approved collaboration tools. A site has been established, with current approved collaboration resources."

"Zoom is not licensed nor authorized for use by NASA employees and contractors, and is not allowed on NASA IT devices. This includes all Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) or contractor-provided equipment, or any device that connects to the NASA network or VPN. This includes desktops, laptops and mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)."

- Beware Of Using Zoom, earlier post
- Cyber Threats At NASA Significantly Increasing, earlier post

Foreign Spies Are Targeting Americans on Zoom and Other Video Chat Platforms, U.S. Intel Officials Say, Time

"The U.S. intelligence officials stress there is no evidence that Zoom is cooperating with China or has been compromised by it, only that Zoom's security measures leave gaps, some of which may make the application less secure than others. All three intelligence officials, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss ongoing operations with the media, said spies are using multiple applications to search government, corporate, and academic conversations for financial, personal, product development, research, and intellectual property information and leads. Federal experts have warned both government and private officials not to use video conference applications to discuss or exchange sensitive information. In a memo on Thursday, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms told Senators not to use Zoom, according to one person who received the memo."

NASA Agencywide Message: CDC Guidelines on Face Coverings in Public Places, NASA

"In order to protect our workforce, and your families, NASA employees and contractors are strongly encouraged to follow the CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in public settings, and where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, including on NASA centers, where practicable. These are unprecedented times, but we are confident that these measures, in combination with others already in place, will help slow the transmission of the virus."

United Launch Alliance Statement on Positive COVID-19 Case

"A ULA employee in one of our Denver facilities tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on April 6, and we are taking all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our teammates and facilities ... Our early and aggressive COVID mitigations have limited the number of personnel exposed. We are executing our prepared and rehearsed response plan and anticipate no impacts to our manifest. ULA continues to proactively take steps to protect our people, slow the spread of the virus, and maintain national security."

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture says three workers in Kent have tested positive for coronavirus, Geekwire

"Three employees at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture have tested positive for coronavirus and are now in quarantine, a spokeswoman for the company says. One case came to light on Friday, and two other cases were confirmed over the weekend, said Linda Mills, Blue Origin's vice president of communications."

NASA Langley reports first coronavirus case, WTKR

"NASA Langley reported their first positive coronavirus case Monday. NASA Langley officials say they were notified over the weekend that an employee tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently being treated. This case marks the first confirmed positive case at NASA Langley. NASA Langley officials says they were notified quickly and were able to take steps to mitigate potential impacts on the health and safety of the Langley team."

Keith's note: NASA Langley is still at Stage 3..

According to an email sent to me by NASA LaRC PAO: "Over the weekend, we were notified that a member of the NASA Langley team tested positive, and is being treated, for coronavirus (COVID-19). It is our first confirmed positive case at NASA Langley. Because we were made aware of this so quickly by the employee's emergency contact, we were able to take steps to mitigate potential impacts on the health and safety of the Langley team. We immediately notified any employees who may have come in contact with the individual, and the individual's work areas have been professionally cleaned and sanitized. Additionally, the workforce at NASA Langley is currently at Stage 3 of the agency's Covid-19 response, meaning the entire workforce is on mandatory telework with the exception of a very few mission essential personnel. Most of the Langley workforce has been teleworking since March 17. The positive test for Langley does not change our status at Stage 3 of the agency's response plan. There is no anticipation of Langley moving to Stage 4 at this time."

NASA CIO Agencywide Memo: Alert: Cyber Threats Significantly Increasing During Coronavirus Pandemic, NASA CIO

"A new wave of cyber-attacks is targeting Federal Agency Personnel, required to telework from home, during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. During the past few weeks, NASA's Security Operations Center (SOC) mitigation tools have prevented success of these attempts. Here are some examples of what's been observed in the past few days:

- Doubling of email phishing attempts
- Exponential increase in malware attacks on NASA systems
- Double the number of mitigation-blocking of NASA systems trying to access malicious sites (often unknowingly) due to users accessing the Internet

Experts believe these malicious cyber-attacks will continue and likely increase during the pandemic. NASA's SOC continues to monitor and protect Agency systems, data, and intellectual property 24x7.

Please continue your vigilance, as you use NASA systems, and extend this to your home-computer usage as well."

Message From The NASA Administrator: Adjusting to the Temporary "New Normal"

"It's been just over two weeks since NASA transitioned, as an agency, into Stage 3 of its coronavirus (COVID-19) response framework. In that time, several facilities have moved into Stage 4 due to on-site COVID-19 cases and/or an increasing number of cases in their surrounding communities. Marshall Space Flight Center recently became the latest to move to Stage 4. Approximately 75% of our workforce is now working from home - some in home offices, some at the kitchen table. Some of us have taken over the dining room, or other room that, just weeks ago, had been a shared space for family, friends, roommates, etc. I want to thank everyone who supports a NASA employee on the home front."

Message From The NASA Administrator: Help the Nation - Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK, NASA

"Over the past few weeks, I've heard from employees across the agency who want to help the nation through this unprecedented time. These comments exemplify the prevailing, can-do spirit of NASA people and our willingness to take on any challenge. As the nation comes together to confront this crisis, we must look at every opportunity for NASA to lend a hand and increase our contribution to America's response. We have unique capabilities--several of which are already being used to help combat COVID-19. We also have talented people and decades of experience finding solutions to complex problems. NASA will continue to support the Administration and local response efforts by our field centers. Starting today, we're also asking the NASA workforce for ideas of how the agency can leverage its expertise and capabilities to provide additional support. Using our internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK, you can submit ideas for solutions relevant to COVID-19. Multiple ideas may be selected for follow-up and potential action."

NASA Taps Workforce for Innovative Ideas for Coronavirus Response Efforts, NASA

"For the initial call for ideas, NASA leadership, working with the White House and other government agencies, determined three focus areas around personal protective equipment, ventilation devices, and monitoring and forecasting the spread and impacts of the virus. Other creative ideas are encouraged as well, and as COVID-19 evolves, the NASA @ WORK challenge may introduce additional topic areas to address the needs of the country." For employees seeking more information about the NASA @ WORK opportunity, visit:"

Keith's note: The responses below were to a tweet by Nestor Tezna @NestorTezna who is Policy Director (acting) at NASA. He was responding to my comment to @JimBridenstine. Tezna said that NASA was working with other agencies and commercial partners. I then tweeted these two replies. He responded back to thank me for my support. And then he deleted his original tweets. Odd.

NASA SMD: Frequently Asked Questions about Grants and Research during the COVID-19 Epidemic

"If you have questions about conducting your research or managing your grants during the COVID-19 epidemic, NASA SMD has prepared a Question and Answer document. The document outlines SMD's implementation of recent guidance from the Office of Management and the Budget as well as questions regarding the processing of existing awards and the donation of Personal Protective Equipment purchased using NASA grant funds."

Keith's note: I got this note from a Lockheed Martin employee last night:

"Keith: I have been an avid reader of NASAWatch since the 1990's (RIFwatch times) and I saw the post on Lockheed Martin's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a large Lockheed Martin team working last week and this past weekend with local hospitals in Denver to help make items to replace PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that are critically needed. Some are as simple as repurposing the standard surgical masks into 3D printed cartridge filters that can attach to respirator masks, making 3D printed respirator masks, and even rapid prototyping PAPRs (Powered, Air-Purifying Respirator) that the hospital cannot get.

I have worked here for three decades and this is still the coolest thing I have seen Lockheed Martin do. I am even more surprised and proud that the company is doing this without PR. Corporate is really behind this and it is all overhead or volunteer hours (one of my designers has been in over 30 hours this weekend to support).

From what I have seen locally they really are working hard to do just about all they can do on short turn around. This is not just local though. All portions of the company from Space, to Aero, to Information Systems have been engaged to do this same support - with the specific focus driven by local needs of hospitals - not corporate. I am actually proud of what corporate is doing. Great efforts are being done with no press and that is wonderful and worth lauding."

I am told from another source that Lockheed Martin has collected maks and safety glasses from their shops in their Denver facilities, Michoud Assembly Facility, and Kennedy Space Center.

Well done.

- Lockheed Martin Details How It Plans To Respond to COVID-19, earlier post

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - March 30, 2020, NASA

"Thank you for all your questions in last week's Ask the Administrator. Our agency's response to COVID-19 is admirable and characteristic of the strength and spirit of our team. If you haven't had a chance to view the recording, you can do so here. These difficult challenges have a way of bringing out our best and because of that I believe we will be better for it. Please continue to stay in frequent contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates."

Keith's note: According to four five six nine ten NASA facilities are now at Stage 4 on the NASA COVID-19 Response Framework: Ames, Michoud, GISS, Stennis, Glenn, Plum Brook, Goddard, Wallops, Armstrong and now Marshall. Everyone else is currently at Stage 3.

Boeing Statement on Passage of CARES Act

"Boeing's top priority is to protect our workforce and support our extensive supply chain, and the CARES Act will help provide adequate measures to help address the pandemic. We have also taken a number of measures for affordability and liquidity as we navigate the challenges our industry currently faces, including forgoing pay for our CEO and board chairman, suspending our dividend until further notice, and extending our existing pause of any share repurchasing until further notice."

Statement From Lockheed Martin Chairman, President And CEO Marillyn Hewson On COVID-19 Response

"At Lockheed Martin, we recognize that the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its wide-ranging impacts have caused severe disruption across society and tragic loss of life around the world. We also recognize that the global pandemic has created a need for urgent action by government, business, communities and citizens. In response to this crisis, our company will be guided by and operate with three clear priorities. First, we will continue to protect the health and safety of our men and women on the job and their families. Second, we will continue to perform and deliver for our customers because what they do for our national security, global communications, and infrastructure is critical to our nation and our allies. Third, we will do our part to use our know-how, resources, and leadership as a company to assist our communities and our country during this period of national crisis."

Keith's note: Boeing begs for $60 billion in tax dollars but won't say what they will do with the money or how they will help their employees while Lockheed Martin specifically talks about taking care of their people and others. Hmmm ... $60 billion for Being. Assuming 150,000 employees (give or take) that would be $400,000 per employee. That's enough to keep people employed for a year or two. Just sayin'

Teamwork and Resilience: Today's Ask the Administrator, NASA

"Thank you for all the great questions submitted for this week's virtual Ask the Administrator. With the assistance of Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk and Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, we got through as many questions as possible in this session. I encourage you to take a moment to watch the video online at The video also will be posted to"

NASA Virtual Town Hall: Ask the Administrator 25 March 2020 (Transcript), NASA

Elon Musk's SpaceX puts employees in quarantine after two workers get coronavirus, telegraph

"An employee and a medic at Elon Musk's SpaceX have tested positive for coronavirus, causing the company to put at least 12 of its workers in quarantine. Employees were told on Monday afternoon that two people working at the company's facility in Hawthorne, near Los Angeles had the virus, according to a company email seen by The Telegraph."

Keith's note: I am starting to see Facebook and social media posts by people I know - who know people who are sick with COVID-19 - or have died. This will start to accelerate sharply albeit exponentially in the next week or so. Remember back in the 80s and 90s when your gay friends would comment once in a while about the increasing number of friends they lost to AIDS and the air of despair and hopelessness that accompanied that loss - and the aching hope for a cure? Think of that decade or so of prolonged loss compressed into mere months. That is what COVID-19 can and will do unless everyone does their part to limit the spread. Add in what we all went through during/after 9-11, Columbia, and Katrina for good measure. We've all seen those movies before. And we all made it through each of them.

If you have worked at NASA for more than 5 minutes then you have heard the old "there is no 'I' in team" management theme. Well, guess what: that is now obsolete. The "I" is now of paramount importance. Every single person can - and must - make a contribution by staying home, being cautious, listening to medical professionals, and adapting to the new normal of doing rocket science from home. Acting as an individual is now of core importance to the team.

As Jim Bridenstine noted "Each of us has the important responsibility of taking extra precautions to protect ourselves and our team. If you are performing on-site work and feel sick, do not go to work. Contact your supervisor immediately and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider."

I take Jim 200% at his word. If your center is not at Stage 4 yet and you think that it should be, then tell your management. If you do not feel comfortable doing so or think that they are not listening then please borrow the NASAWatch comments section - or send an email - and I will make sure the message is delivered - with anonymity.

In the mean time, now that working at NASA - is working from home - in isolation - there is one example to emulate: Think like Mark Watney. He teleworked from Mars for years. He eventually showed up at his NASA office on Earth after all the bad stuff was over.

So can you.

Message From The NASA Administrator: March 24 Update on Agency Response to Coronavirus

"Our nation is fighting an invisible enemy - coronavirus (COVID-19). NASA is implementing important measures across the agency to do our part to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. To continue NASA's inspiring mission, the safety of our workforce is our top priority. We will not ask employees and contractors to perform work if we do not have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so. ... Each of us has the important responsibility of taking extra precautions to protect ourselves and our team. If you are performing on-site work and feel sick, do not go to work. Contact your supervisor immediately and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider."

ISS National Laboratory: COVID-19 Response and Update, CASIS

"Effective March 20, 2020, we elevated the COVID-19 response level at the ISS National Lab, enacting a mandatory telework policy for our team. ... As we endeavor to navigate this very dynamic situation, we will provide status updates as necessary. For now, let's all do the best that we can to remain safe and healthy. Let's also make an effort to remain connected to one another through this challenging time. All the best and trying to be Mark Watney."

ESA COVID-19 Responses

ESA scales down science mission operations amid pandemic, ESA

"In response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, ESA has decided to further reduce on-site personnel at its mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The new adjustments require temporarily stopping instrument operation and data gathering on four Solar System science missions, which are part of the wider fleet of 21 spacecraft currently flown by the Agency from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt. ESA implemented risk mitigation measures early on. The vast majority of ESA's workforce has been teleworking for nearly two weeks. Only key personnel performing critical tasks, which include maintaining real-time spacecraft operations, are still present on site at ESA's establishments throughout Europe."

NASA Science Mission Directorate Virtual Town Hall 2020

"The leadership of SMD recognizes that the COVID-19 epidemic has placed tremendous strain on all of us and our families, disrupting our lives and putting new hurdles in the way of accomplishing our professional goals. Our first priority is the safety of everyone who works on NASA missions and funded research and SMD leadership is committed to doing all it can to support our community. I want to thank all of you for your patience and hard work as we transition to this new normal.

We know that progress on funded research may slow and in some cases even stop due to necessary telework and lack of access to facilities and labs, the closing of public schools and daycare facilities for our children, the transition of teaching activities to on-line classes, and other family obligations. SMD understands this potential outcome of the current epidemic response and will work with the research community and its institutions to mitigate any impacts and to make plans, when possible, for a way forward. This situation will undoubtedly cause some inefficiencies, but we continue to be supportive of any research that can be done remotely."

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - March 23, 2020

Most of the agency remains at Stage 3 of NASA's Response Framework to COVID-19, with mandatory telework for all employees and limited exceptions for on-site work. Ames, Michoud and Stennis are at Stage 4 with personnel on-site to protect life and critical infrastructure. Recently, Glenn Research Center in Ohio and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City have also been elevated to Stage 4. Every precaution is being taken to safeguard the health of our workforce. Agency leadership is regularly evaluating mission-essential activities and determining what can safely proceed and what should be completed through telework. Please continue to stay in frequent contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates.

White House Announces New Partnership to Unleash U.S. Supercomputing Resources to Fight COVID-19

"The White House announced the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium to provide COVID-19 researchers worldwide with access to the world's most powerful high performance computing resources that can significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus. ... "We are pleased to lend NASA's supercomputing expertise to assist in the global fight against this pandemic. For more than six decades the agency has used its expertise to take on challenges that have benefited people worldwide in unexpected ways," said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator."

NASA COVID-19 Community Update from Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen

"We know that progress on funded research may slow and in some cases even stop due to necessary telework and lack of access to facilities and labs, the closing of public schools and daycare facilities for our children, the transition of teaching activities to on-line classes, and other family obligations. SMD understands this potential outcome of the current epidemic response and will work with the research community and its institutions to mitigate any impacts and to make plans, when possible, for a way forward. This situation will undoubtedly cause some inefficiencies, but we continue to be supportive of any research that can be done remotely."

Boeing worker at Everett plant dies from coronavirus infection, Seattle Times

"The man's job was to oversee unfinished work that had traveled out from the factory to the flight line. He was also a shop steward in the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union. On Saturday, while he was still in intensive care, his brother posted a plea to Boeing on Facebook. "Boeing Everett plant, please close your doors and shut down," his brother wrote, adding that the man had worked at Boeing for 27 years. "My brother is on life support. Please pray for him and all affected by the virus," he concluded.In a subsequent post, he said his brother had died."

Boeing to Temporarily Suspend Puget Sound Production Operations in Response to Escalating COVID-19 Pandemic

"Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced a temporary suspension of production operations at its Puget Sound area facilities in light of the state of emergency in Washington state and the company's continuous assessment of the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in the region. These actions are being taken to ensure the well-being of employees, their families and the local community, and will include an orderly shutdown consistent with the requirements of its customers."

COVID-19 Pandemic Management Course, Johns Hopkins

"As scientists, doctors, and governments try to get a grip on COVID-19, surgeon and partner of ES4P David Joyce, MD MBA, and Emergency Medical physician and former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, MD, are partnering to offer a new online course on COVID-19 for healthcare providers. The course aims to go beyond improving providers' understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering critical advice on what providers can do to care for their patients while mitigating the risks of contracting and spreading the disease themselves."

Submit Your Questions for NASA's First "Ask the Administrator"

"Do you have a question about NASA's response to coronavirus (COVID-19)? Submit your questions and Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, and Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk will answer them during a recorded video Q&A session. The question queue will be open until noon EDT Tuesday, March 24. The video will be posted online Wednesday, March 25, for the entire workforce to watch and we'll let you know as soon as it's available and where to watch it!"

Editorial: Why Coronavirus Cannot Kill Aviation, Aviation Week

"It is vital for governments, lawmakers and industry leaders to recognize that aviation will need help getting through such destructive upheaval. But in some cases, the optics will invite legitimate criticism. For example, Boeing has returned nearly $50 billion to its shareholders over the past five years while investing far less. Now it wants taxpayers to cough up tens of billions for a bailout? U.S. airlines are no better: They have sent 96% of free cash flow to shareholders over the last five years. And what about those airlines in Europe that should have been allowed to die long ago? Will they use this crisis as leverage for yet another government rescue?"

Trump says he is 'OK' with forbidding buybacks as condition of corporate bailouts, CNBC

"President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would not oppose barring companies that receive federal assistance during the coronavirus pandemic from conducting stock buybacks."

KSC Worker Confirmed with COVID-19, Talk of Titusville

"An employee with Jacob's Space Exploration Group, a subcontractor based at Kennedy Space Center, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. According to email sent by management on Sunday, March, the employee has been out on leave for over a week and was feeling well but no symptoms when they left for leave."

Keith's note: I have been hearing from NASA and contractor employees who are still working and considered to be "essential". "Essential" is a term used by the government and does not mean that other people are not "essential". That said, those people who have been deemed to have an "essential" role face the same risks, stresses, and concerns as the rest of us. This email from someone at KSC speaks very clearly to this issue. Perhaps NASA can respond to those people who cannot telework and must be onsite.

"Hi Keith,

I am a Contractor employee at KSC working on SLS. Could you do the Mission Essential Contractor Team at KSC a favor and ask the NASA Administrator a question. Since we are all concerned about the Corona virus and since every day at work we hear a Safety message why are we still working SLS at KSC. Seems kinda hypocritical. Close the NASA Centers and discontinue all work in an abundance of caution until we as a Country get through this. Safety first.


Keith's update: KSC Worker Confirmed with COVID-19, Talk of Titusville

The Parallels Between Space Missions And COVID-19 Isolation, Jack Stuster

Keith's note: Jack Stuster has been conducting studies for NASA on how crews live and work in space and the parallels that can be found with expeditions on Earth for decades. He has provided this commentary about confinement and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the parallels within his studies.

"Dear Keith: I have been asked recently by two German journalists for suggestions about how families and others might adapt to confinement and isolation in their homes in response to the current pandemic. As you know, I have studied conditions analogous to space stations and to expeditions to the Moon and Mars for nearly 40 years, and I studied life on the ISS during the 13-year Journals Flight Experiment. I have described the research in articles/papers, NASA technical reports, and a book, Bold Endeavors: Lessons from Polar and Space Exploration. I am offering the recommendations, below, and on the attached one-page document in hope that the information might be useful to your readers."

Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council Postponed

"The Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council, scheduled to take place on March 24th, 2020 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., has been postponed. A new date for the meeting will be determined."

NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus, NASA

"We are going to take care of our people. That's our first priority," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can't safely do that we're going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities." The agency has defined mission-essential work as that which must be performed to maintain critical mission operations to ensure the schedule of time-sensitive mission-critical launches, or work to protect life and critical infrastructure. This includes work to support America's national security and mission-essential functions for the nation. NASA leadership will continually assess all activities as the situation evolves."

NASA Stennis Space Center Site Status 20 March 2020

"Stennis Space Center is in Stage 4 for COVID-19 NASA leadership continues to make the health and safety of the Stennis workforce a top priority. Due to the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the local area, and the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce, Stennis is moving into Stage 4 of our Agency coronavirus response framework effective Friday, March 20. While there is only one confirmed case at Stennis, this step is being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect you and your families. Access to Stennis during Stage 4 will be limited to personnel supporting activities necessary to protect life and critical infrastructure as identified by the resident agencies and SSC leadership."

NASA Administrator Bridenstine: March 19 Update on Agency Response to Coronavirus, NASA

"NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, effective Friday, March 20. ... NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware. The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure."

ESA Mission Control Adjusts To Coronavirus Conditions, ESA

"Responsible for spacecraft orbiting Earth, the Sun and exploring the Solar System, teams at ESA's ESOC mission control deal with in-flight challenges every day, from faulty hardware, problematic software and hazardous space debris to computer viruses that could affect ground stations. So how do they keep missions flying when a viral pandemic puts the people of the Agency at risk?"

Keith's note: How are NASA (JSC, JPL, KSC, WFF), DoD, APL, SpaceX, Rockelab, Blue Origin, ULA etc working Coronavirus/COVID-19 social distancing into how they run their launches and missions?

NASA Ames Update: Update: Second Ames Employee Case Confirmed

"We have received notification that a second Ames employee has acquired COVID-19 illness. There is no indication that this second case is related to the first case. Based on the circumstances and elapsed time since the employee was on site (more than 19 days ago), we believe that there is no additional risk at the center."

NASA is Prepared for this Challenge, Jim Bridenstine

"Our nation is facing a challenging time amid this national health emergency. The well-being of you and your families remains the top priority for NASA leadership. While we know this situation presents a number of difficulties for our missions, we are confident there is no team better prepared for doing hard things. We have accomplished so many incredible feats as an agency. We put Americans on the Moon, landed on Mars (seven times!), launched hundreds of crewed and robotic missions into space, created life-changing technologies, transformed aviation and sustained human presence on a laboratory that flies 250 miles above Earth for nearly 20 years - just to name a few things that once were thought to be impossible."

Keith's note: As a biologist I cannot let this pandemic go by without paying close attention to the details. They are scary. If you are young the risk is less equally - perhaps more likely that you are going to be seriously sick if infected - and you will still able to spread COVID-19 to others. If you are in good health you will probably be OK. But if you have any - I repeat any - underlying physical issues and/or are a Boomer (or older) then you should be very afraid. The death risk goes up - well above Flu. Stock up on the essentials. Make sure you have an extra supply - and take - your meds. Become a hermit. If your spouse gets this - so will you. You can interact with others to your heart's content online for a few months. There is no treatment. There is no cure. Only prevention and common sense are available to you. This is survivable but you need to take responsibility for your own survival.

Our current federal government will fail you in this regard. Get used to it.

Be Mark Watney.

Hello from Italy. Your future is grimmer than you think., Washington Post

"Writing this from Italy, I am also writing to you from your own future. From our state of emergency, we have been watching the crisis unfold in the United States with a terrible sense of foreboding. Please stop waiting for others to tell you what to do; stop blaming the government for doing too much or too little. We all have actions we can take to slow the spread of the disease -- and ensuring that your own household has enough canned goods and cleaning supplies is not enough. You can do a lot more. You should do a lot more. Stay away from restaurants, gyms, libraries, movie theaters, bars and cafes, yes. But also: Don't invite people over for dinner, don't let your kids go on playdates, don't take them to the playground, don't let your teenagers out of your sight. They will sneak out with their friends, they will hold hands, they will share their drinks and food. If this seems too much, consider the following: We are not allowed to hold weddings or funerals. We can't gather to bury our dead. For us, it might be too late to avoid an incredible loss of life. But if you decide against taking actions because it seems inconvenient, or because you don't want to look silly, you can't say you weren't warned."

March 17 Update on NASA's Response to Coronavirus, NASA

"This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA's Response Framework. Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite. Please contact your supervisor as soon as possible if you have any questions."

"Shelter in Place" Guidance for Ames Community , NASA Ames

"In compliance with the Order of the Santa Clara County Health Officer, effective 12:01 a.m. PDT, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Ames Research Center is on mandatory telework for ALL personnel with the exception of limited personnel required to maintain safety and security of the center. All previously approved exceptions for work onsite are rescinded and new approvals will be required in order to gain access to the center."

COVID-19: Guiana Space Center suspends launch campaigns, Arianespace

"Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to fully implement the measures decided by the French government, launch campaigns underway at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana have been suspended. These launch preparations will resume as soon as allowed by health conditions. This exceptional measure is designed to protect the health of employees and the local population, while also maintaining the security needed to prepare for scheduled launches. Arianespace, French space agency CNES and all companies involved at CSG are currently overseeing operations to place launchers and satellites in safe standby condition, in line with standard procedures."

NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge Cancels In-Person Competition; Virtual Awards to be Presented in May, NASA

"The safety and protection of the Rover Challenge student teams, our NASA workforce and all those supporting the competition is NASA's top priority. According to guidance of the Center for Disease Control and other federal agencies, traveling and gathering in large groups are heavily discouraged at this time. In an effort to comply with guidance and help restrict the spread of COVID-19, we regret that we must cancel this year's competition. However, some awards will still be given virtually, to reward the work that teams have already completed."

Statement on NASA Goddard's Coronavirus Prep Actions

"Out of an abundance of caution, Goddard has canceled all non-mission-essential visits to its facilities. Goddard also is closing its Visitor Centers at Greenbelt and at Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, beginning Friday, March 13, as a means to be protective and encourage social distancing."

NASA Travel Guidance as of March 14, 2020

"The protection and care of our team is the top priority. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation evolves, the agency is following a phased response based on conditions at, and in the vicinity of, each NASA facility. NASA leadership also is monitoring conferences to determine risk and will continue to provide guidance on attendance accordingly."

NASA JSC: Special: March 14 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

"The protection and care of the Johnson team is our top priority and critical to the success of our mission. While we do not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Johnson as of today, March 14, out of an abundance of caution, the center is transitioning to Stage 2 of our response framework. Telework is strongly encouraged for employees who can work remotely. If you already have everything you need to work remotely, you can begin telework on Monday, March 16."

Update on NASA's Response to the Coronavirus

"As we navigate this difficult time, the protection and care of the NASA family continues to be our top priority and the key consideration as we make decisions on how to move forward. NASA leadership is coordinating closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and interagency partners in our nation's unified response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and regularly re-evaluating the conditions at each center. Your careful observance of recommendations is key to protecting our team and ensuring we accomplish our mission."

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to Close Temporarily Due to Threat of COVID-19

"Out of an abundance of extreme caution and in the best interest of our guests and crewmembers, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will temporarily be closed as of March 16, 2020 until further notice. During this closure guests will not be permitted onto visitor complex grounds. As always, the health and safety of our employees and guests is the highest priority for Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Our goal is also to mitigate the spread of the virus."

Subject: MSFC - Mandatory Telework - Stage 3 Effective Immediately
Date: March 14, 2020 at 7:50:46 AM MDT

This is an emergency message from NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center. Effective immediately, MSFC has gone to mandatory telework, Stage 3. For additional details, please check the email sent by the MSFC Director, Jody Singer.

Statement By NASA Marshall Center Director Jody Singer

"On the evening of Friday, March 13, we received confirmation that one of our employees tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Contact tracing will begin immediately in order to identify and notify individuals who may have had significant contact with that employee. "Access to the center will be restricted to mission-essential personnel only, as defined in the response framework. More guidance will follow for those who do not have equipment to work from home or who work in labs or other facilities requiring similar technical equipment that is a fixed asset."

American Astronomical Society: COVID-19 and the 236th AAS Meeting

"In response to the increasing threat of COVID-19, the American Astronomical Society is looking into converting its 236th meeting, currently scheduled 31 May to 4 June in Madison, Wisconsin, from an on-site/in-person conference to a fully remote/virtual conference. ... While this is an extraordinarily difficult decision, we believe it is the right one to protect the health and welfare of our members, staff, vendors, and other meeting participants. If we can pull it off, holding a virtual AAS 236 would likely have positive long-term effects. Our Sustainability Committee has been wrestling with how to lower the carbon footprint of AAS meetings and has been encouraging the Society to experiment with ways of enabling remote access to some sessions. Until recently, every software product we explored for this purpose left a lot to be desired. Now, though, virtual conferencing technology appears to have proliferated, matured, and become more affordable. We are optimistic that AAS 236 could not only be successful as an all-digital conference, but also that it could serve as a trailblazer to a future of more inclusive and sustainable AAS meetings."

Space Symposium Postponed

Space Foundation Postpones 36th Space Symposium

"The Space Foundation issued a statement today announcing the 36th Space Symposium, previously scheduled for March 30 - April 2, 2020, has been postponed: "The Space Foundation is working with its partners, The Broadmoor, the City of Colorado Springs, and its members and other key stakeholders to identify future dates and details that will assemble the world's space community again in Colorado. "In the coming days, we will be issuing additional guidance about those steps and the identified path forward. We ask for your patience as that guidance is assembled and conveyed to our partners, attendees, the public, and the space community we are proud to serve."

Keith's note: From the White House: "The next meeting of the National Space Council, originally scheduled to take place on March 24th, 2020 at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will now be held in Washington, D.C.

The meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, will convene at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 24th, 2020. The meeting will be livestreamed, and additional details will be forthcoming."

ExoMars to Take Off for the Red Planet in 2022, not 2020

"In the frame of a dedicated meeting, ESA and Roscosmos heads Jan Wörner and Dmitry Rogozin agreed that further tests to the spacecraft with the final hardware and software are needed. In addition, the parties had to recognise that the final phase of ExoMars activities are compromised by the general aggravation of the epidemiological situation in European countries."

Coronavirus crisis hits ice-locked Arctic research expedition, Nature

"The coronavirus outbreak has reached the Arctic -- and is imperilling a massive international scientific project, after a team member tested positive for the virus. The mission, called MOSAiC, is operating from the German research vessel Polarstern, which has been intentionally frozen in Arctic sea ice since last October. From this ice-encrusted platform, a rotating cast of scientists and technicians are sampling the ice, atmosphere and ocean in an attempt to understand the intricacies of the rapidly changing Arctic climate. The team member who contracted the virus works on the airborne component of the expedition -- a key part that has now been delayed to protect those on board the ship. This part of the mission will use scientific aircraft to take measurements around Polarstern to provide context for those taken at the ship."

Boeing to freeze hiring, overtime on 737 MAX, virus impacts: sources, Reuters

"Boeing Co is freezing new hiring and overtime except in certain critical areas in efforts to preserve cash due to the coronavirus outbreaks and the 737 MAX grounding, people familiar the matter said on Wednesday. Layoffs or furloughs were also a "real possibility" but were seen as a separate, later action, one of the people said. A second industry source said job cuts were likely as the aviation industry is squeezed by plummeting travel demand and a safety ban on the 737 MAX after two fatal crashes hit the one-year mark."

The Official SATELLITE 2020 Statement

"In light of the DC Health Department's announcement today recommending gatherings of 1,000 or more people be postponed until March 31st, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center has decided to close this evening at the conclusion of our scheduled events. This impacts both the exhibit hall and conference sessions for Thursday, March 12th."

Coronavirus shaking up America's defense industry, Defense News

"Lockheed, Raytheon and Honeywell were among dozens of companies that pulled out of last month's Singapore Air Show, which is typically the largest defense trade show in Asia―and SXSW, a show AIA participates in, was cancelled. The two offer a glimpse into how fears of corona virus could impact other defense trade shows and conferences. "It felt like a ghost town. It definitely was a strange experience," Fanning said about the Singapore conference."

Keith's note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic the president just announced a 30 day ban on all travel (apparently including cargo) to the U.S. from Europe beginning at midnight Friday. As such one could expect a wide range of space community activities will be severely impacted.

Keith's 10 March update: I was able to listen in to the internal NASA webcast on Corona virus issues and live tweed as much as I could - you can see the tweets plus the questions submitted by NASA employees at @NASAwatch. You can check out the questions submitted and voted on here:!/dashboard

Keith's 10 March update: This Town Hall meeting will only be webcast internally at NASA.

Keith's 9 March note: NASA will have an agency-wide meeting on Tuesday 10 March at 12:00 pm Noon EST. The event will be streamed live within the agency. I am not sure if the public will be able to see it.

I was able to listen in to the internal NASA webcast on Corona virus issues and live tweed as much as I could - you can see the tweets plus the questions submitted by NASA employees at @NASAwatch

NASA Administrator Statement on Coronavirus Situation

"Last Friday's agencywide voluntary telework exercise was a good test of NASA's large-scale preparedness with no reported issues to the overall IT system. I've asked all NASA employees to continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency's Chief Health and Medical Officer, and if they have questions, don't hesitate to talk with their supervisor.

"You've heard the agency's leadership say the protection and care of our NASA team is the top priority and critical to the success of the agency's mission, and it's true. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation evolves, we'll continue to closely monitor and coordinate with federal, state, and community officials to take any further appropriate steps to help safeguard the NASA family."

Boeing Statement on Employee Diagnosed with COVID-19

"Boeing is providing its full support to an employee at our Everett facility who has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is now in quarantine receiving the care and treatment necessary for their recovery. We have notified our employees and are following the advice of public health officials. As a precaution, we've asked all coworkers of the employee who were in close contact to remain home to self-quarantine and self-monitor, and we've conducted a thorough cleaning of the work areas and common spaces."

"Dear Ames Personnel,

NASA's Ames Research Center will temporarily go to MANDATORY telework status effective immediately and until further notice. More guidance will follow for those who do not have equipment to work from home or who work in labs or other facilities requiring similar technical equipment that are fixed assets.

On Sunday, March 8, we received confirmation that an Ames employee tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). We believe the exposure at the center has been limited, but -- out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with NASA Headquarters and the NASA Chief Heath and Medical Officer in accordance to agency response plans -- Ames Research Center will temporarily go to a mandatory telework status until further notice.

Access to the center will be restricted to essential personnel only as required to safeguard life, property, and critical mission functions approved at the level of the associate center director. Limiting personnel at the center will allow Ames medical personnel and public health officials to determine potential contacts and assess areas that may require additional cleaning and mitigate potential exposure to center personnel.

The protection and care of the Ames family, their families, and the entire Ames community is our top priority and critical to the success of our mission.

The status of the center will be updated regularly through centerwide messages, the emergency notification system, and on the ARCSOS site at Please stay in close contact with your supervisor. I greatly appreciate your understanding, patience, and support.

Eugene Tu
Center Director"

Message From the Associate NASA Administrator: Coronavirus Update

"As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, I am updating you on behalf of the NASA leadership team regarding actions we are taking to respond to this serious and evolving situation. As always, the protection and care of our NASA team is the top priority and critical to the success of our mission.

. Friday, March 6, will be an agencywide telework day. The purpose of this exercise is to test our capabilities, resources, and preparedness for large-scale teleworking. Participation is optional and highly encouraged. Remember to take home your government-furnished computer, if you have one.

. A separate email will be sent later in the week with additional information about the agencywide telework day. The email will include guidance on use of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) and virtual collaboration tools, and other helpful information. This is also an opportunity to ensure your home internet connection can support teleworking.

. Contractors should speak with their program manager and/or COR regarding telework eligibility and then they are required to follow company guidance/policy regarding telework, travel, and all other work activities. NASA will remain OPEN throughout this exercise."

Keith's note: The following is being added to all of the NASA advisory group meeting notices such as the one for NASA Advisory Council Human Explorations and Operations Committee Meeting: "Note: As a precaution, individuals returning from China will not allowed into NASA Headquarters until the 14 days of observation and self-care period has expired, and they are determined not to be infectious. Attendees to the NAC Human Explorations and Operations Committee meeting who are returning from China should only participate virtually through the provided dial-in audio and WebEx, until the 14 days of observation and self-care period has expired."

You'd think that NASA would be just a little more explicit as to what "infectious" means i.e. identify the specific reason - like "Coronavirus" or "COVID-19". Reading/refering to the actual CDC guidelines might be useful. NASA is simply treating all persons who have been in China as high risk. Oddly there have been no such warnings issued for other NASA meetings. And the concern amongst experts now is that the threat is no longer limited to people who have been in China. When agencies and organizations are inconsistent on things like this people simply get more confused. Just sayin'



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