Lab activities increase, but remote work will continue

Since I spoke to you during my virtual all hands meeting, activity at the Laboratory has continued to increase, with approximately 25 percent of the Lab’s workforce now on site to support work prioritized by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), as well as some non-NNSA work supported by other sponsors. The scope of these efforts puts us in a new posture defined by NNSA as “Mission Critical Operations.”

On-site activities include classified and non-classified office-based activities, experimental Lab work and facility operations. High-priority construction projects also have restarted, and specific ES&H, operations, maintenance and facility support activities have resumed or ramped up to augment institutional efforts. All organizations throughout the Laboratory are contributing to these important activities.

In addition, on-site work continues in support of the Lab’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Laboratory researchers are studying ways to safely and rapidly remove viral threats from N95 respirators to allow for reuse, and our scientists have launched a searchable data portal to assist other researchers in the discovery of therapeutic antibodies or antiviral drugs. To see more about LLNL’s COVID-19 research and response, visit here.

The Senior Management Team has developed a standardized framework for restarting activities, and a working group has begun reviewing potential restart plans for additional projects and facilities. However, our overall approach is unchanged: We will continue to phase in work and rely on social distancing, the wearing of face coverings/respirators and other measures to protect employees’ safety and health.

Employees who are supporting the Lab’s mission while working from home continue to play a vital role in this restart effort. By productively telecommuting, much of the Lab’s day-to-day functions and activities continue uninterrupted. These efforts also help to reduce population density at the Lab, allowing for easier social distancing by those who must be physically on site to conduct their work. To be clear: Work occurring at home is no less important than work happening on site. The workforce has risen admirably to the challenges presented, and every employee is making an impact in the Laboratory’s continued success.

As we look to the future, the pandemic response will continue to evolve. In recent weeks, there has been limited easing of restrictions with modifications for certain activities in accordance with the state of California’s four-stage plan. In addition, the current Alameda County shelter-in-place order extends through May 31 but may be extended or modified.

The Laboratory’s resumption of activities has been consistent with state and local shelter-in-place orders that provide an exemption for critical infrastructure sectors and essential government functions, and has been accomplished in a careful and deliberate fashion with employee health and safety as the highest priority. NNSA understands that county and state orders impact the rate of resumption of work and future plans may be affected by variables such as the rate of COVID-19 cases and testing availability in our region.

Regardless of updates to either order, all Lab employees should continue in their current posture. Employees involved in work that requires on-site access are notified individually by their supervisors. No employee should return to the Laboratory for any reason without specific authorization from their management. Those who are able to productively accomplish their work remotely should expect to do so for the foreseeable future, potentially for several more months.

While I look forward to the day when we all return to the site, the situation remains too dynamic to set a date for that occasion. This uncertainty is difficult for us all, but the Laboratory remains a close-knit community no matter where we spend our days. We are united in our mission, and I thank each and every one of you for your continued efforts in service of the Laboratory and our nation.

- Bill Goldstein, LLNL director


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