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NRAO Coronavirus COVID-19 Response

NRAO Coronavirus COVID-19 Response Information

This site outlines information, news and resources in relation to NRAO's response to COVID-19.

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NRAO/GBO Update - Tuesday Sep 15th

Our operations are ongoing. The North American NRAO/GBO instruments and IT systems are online, performing well. In Chile, the JAO is beginning a low—level start of the Santiago offices, and planning the OSF next steps. Infections rates in the cities/regions our sites are located in remain moderate, and continue to fluctuate.

An update on a situation I reported last week – the COVID-19 contamination of a NRAO/GBO department. I am pleased to report that even though we did have an asymptomatic infected employee onsite for two days, no other employees in the same working area were infected. During the past week, a teleworking employee at a different site began a quarantine cycle after a close family member tested positive.  More interactions with COVID can be expected.  

It now appears unlikely that Congress will pass the FY2021 budget for NSF before the end of the year, so at the end of this month we anticipate the federal government installing a Continuing Resolution (CR) on the budget. We have dealt with CRs in past years, and now have set-aside resources to deal with them, so I am not anticipating any issues for NRAO/GBO funding anytime this year or early next year. 

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NRAO/GBO Update - Monday Sep 8th

Our operations are ongoing. The North American NRAO/GBO instruments and IT systems are online, performing well. In Chile, the JAO is preparing for a restart of the Santiago offices. This week it has been six months since the start of our response to COVID. 

During the past week, we had a COVID contamination of a NRAO/GBO department, where a worker was exposed to the disease at a large family event, and came into work for a few days (asymptomatically) until the problem was fully understood. Contacts were traced, and everyone potentially infected has been quarantined. Infection rates around our sites are generally flat or declining, but new waves are possible in the college towns (CV, Socorro) so the threat level remains significant. Please continue to practice physical distancing, keep travel/large events to a minimum (better -> zero), wear masks at all times in public, wash your hands and/or sanitize them regularly if you’re out, etc. A directive was sent to federal departments and agencies requesting they cease funding certain types of race and diversity training. We (AUI/NRAO/GBO) have received no instructions from the National Science Foundation on this issue so far.

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NRAO/GBO Update - Monday Aug 10th

We continue our return to full operations. The North American NRAO/GBO instruments are operational, with IT systems performing well. ALMA has begun regular reviews to consider restarting operations – the answer so far is “not yet”, but the “yes” day is approaching...

In our key states (NM, WV, VA) the number of COVID new infections seems to have passed through a second peak, and is starting to flatten again. It seems clear that nationwide early reopening of social and commercial activities in June had a negative impact, and that reapplication of the lockdown guidelines was required. There are no new reports of AUI/NRAO/GBO employees testing positive for COVID. All NRAO/GBO activities are following the RFTO guidelines and protocols. The new polices requiring face coverings, contact tracing, and the health checks have made us rethink how we work to meet our goals for delivering science. The issues about children going back to school are upon us. Many of our relevant school districts are heading towards virtual schooling for the remainder of the calendar year. Given the extraordinary disruption seen over the past several months, and the significant uncertainties ahead, we have decided to shorten the PEP process to a simple 1-page form enabling dialog between supervisors and staff about outcomes of the past several months, and simple expectations for the coming year. Our plan was to transition to a more relaxed “Phase 2” of operations in early September.

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