Oak Ridge National Laboratory is directing staff members who can to work from home, and for now, the lab is not allowing travelers from foreign countries, regardless of nationality.
ORNL cafeterias will be open for carryout only.
In response to questions Tuesday, ORNL said it has not been notified that any staff member is presumed or confirmed to be COVID-19 positive. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The lab said it is taking proactive measures to reduce the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and to best protect themselves, their families, and their communities.
“Stopping the spread of the virus will prevent hospitals and other medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed by a spike in patients sickened by COVID-19,” ORNL said. “This is quite literally a life or death matter, and early action is key.”
The lab said it is promoting “social distancing,” keeping people apart to the extent possible, an action promoted by local, state, and federal government and health officials.
As part of that, ORNL staff members who can work from home have been directed to do so for the next three weeks, in coordination with their management.
“This will allow most of the lab’s 5,200 staff members to work off campus and increase our on-site ability to spread remaining workers out as the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) recommends,” ORNL said. “All staff are using more videoconferencing to replace in-person meetings and are encouraged to maintain safe distances during person-to-person interactions.
The ORNL cafeteria changes are also in response to those social distancing guidelines.
While working from home, researchers can write, edit, and review technical papers and scientific publications, and the lab’s support staff members can continue working on procurement, finance, and other administrative tasks.
Some specific research activities may be shifted in favor of work that can be done remotely, but ORNL said it is “operating on a normal schedule and remains committed to delivering on research for its national missions.”
The lab said it is heeding all travel restrictions and recommendations from federal agencies related to COVID-19 and has suspended all business travel. While travelers from foreign countries are not allowed into the lab, domestic visitors are permitted but only if their visits are deemed essential.
The lab has canceled public tours and visits.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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