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At least 132 employees at the SpaceX rocket factory near Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19, making it the site of the largest recent countywide workplace outbreak tracked by local health officials.
According to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday, the Elon Musk-led company currently accounts for nearly 30% of workplace COVID-19 cases in the county. The list includes 37 companies who have three or more confirmed cases each, with a total of 452 cases.
The SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne employs nearly 6,000 people.
The outbreak comes amid a new round of rising infections in California and across the country that have been fueled by the spread of the omicron variant.
This is the second time one of Musk’s companies has been at the center of a large COVID-19 workplace infection story. Musk is the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla.
In March, The Washington Post reported approximately 450 of roughly 10,000 workers at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory tested positive for COVID-19 over seven months in the early days of the pandemic. About 125 of those cases were reported in December 2020.
Musk railed against the lockdowns that affected the plant, calling them “fascist” and “not democratic,” and defied county orders to halt production, saying, “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
In April, SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract with NASA to build a moon lander for astronauts. In September, the aerospace company launched the first all-civilian crew to orbit earth.