Coronavirus pandemic causes NASA to move entire agency to Stage 3

After NASA announced one of its centers would move to Stage 3 "mandatory telework status" in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the space agency has elevated the issue, moving entirely to Stage 3.

“This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "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."

Bridenstine added that although a "limited amount" of NASA employees have tested postitive for COVID-19, the government agency wants to be pre-emptive and slow the rate of spreading, a method known as "flattening the curve."

The NASA logo is emblazoned on a Rocket Lab Electron booster ahead of the company's first launch for the U.S. space agency on Dec. 12-13, 2018 from Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand's North Island.

The NASA logo is emblazoned on a Rocket Lab Electron booster ahead of the company's first launch for the U.S. space agency on Dec. 12-13, 2018 from Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand's North Island. (Rocket Lab)

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: WHERE DOES IT STAND?

“Agency leadership continues to monitor developments regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) around the nation," Bridenstine added. "We are closely following the advice of health professionals and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to keep our workforce safe. Implementing best practices early and quickly will increase likelihoods for better outcomes."

“NASA’s early and thoughtful actions in coordination with our country’s unified response to this health emergency is an incredible display of national solidarity," Bridenstine continued. "Thank you for your vigilance and flexibility. I am confident your diligence and commitment will ensure our mission will continue. Please make certain you are giving the appropriate attention to your health and that of your family.”

On Tuesday, NASA announced it would move the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to Stage 3 after it received confirmation that an employee at the center tested positive for COVID-19.

The Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Ala., is the agency's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center and is the largest center in NASA. It was responsible for developing the Saturn launch vehicles in the Apollo space program.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been more than 198,000 reported cases of COVID-19, including at least 6,400 in the U.S.

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