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NRAO Coronavirus COVID-19 Response > news > NRAO/GBO update - Wed Apr 8th

NRAO/GBO update - Wed Apr 8th

To all NRAO/GBO employees: 

We are midway through our fourth week in Infectious Disease Operating Status (IDOS). The North American NRAO/GBO instruments are  operational. IT systems are performing well.  We are planning to remain in IDOS until Monday, June 1st 2020. Weather events in West Virginia cut power to Pocahontas County and the site for a time today, although by the end of the day observations should be underway again thanks to the great work of the GBO crew.

We have reached the point where a small number of AUI staff members are confirmed with COVID-19. This is not a surprise; and these individuals seem to be coping well. Routinely, we also hear of staff members or family experiencing similar symptoms, without any test results available. Nationally, states and cities are continuing to see many new cases, and people being quite gravely ill with the disease. It remains imperative that you continue to practice strict physical distancing, monitor and disinfect whenever possible your external interactions (necessary shopping, people visits, etc.) and carefully consider your personal role in halting the spread of the virus. This is the most critical time for distancing.  Please contact Jody Bolyard jbolyard@nrao.edu) or me if you need more information regarding COVID-19.  If you encounter illness (you or family, tested for COVID-19 or not), please let HR know at some point so we can assess overall staff health.

This week senior management has been conducting “Continuity of Operations” reviews, where the key areas and essential (and routine) activities at all NRAO and GBO locations have been examined. The overarching goal is to modify our activities to the point where they can restart or continue by being done by one person alone, or without significantly violating physical distancing issues (for two or more people), and avoiding transmitting COVID-19 between people on surfaces or through breathing. Some of the solutions involve PPE – Personal Protection Equipment – e.g. face masks, gloves, disposable suits, suits with respirators, etc. We routinely have a small amount of this equipment on hand for standard  operations (and which we will deliver to local hospitals, if needed). So far, we’ve identified a very small handful of activities that we don’t know how to do just yet and keep everybody safe – and in a month, we’ll have solved those, too. The goal of these efforts is to secure our Essential Services role, and to get ready for the time when we’ll move out of IDOS, and significant portions of the Observatories will return to work. Alongside the new definitions of some old activities, we will have new protocols for staff accessing and using our facilities. In coming weeks, we’ll start to discuss some of these new approaches with everyone, and in mid-May we’ll begin testing and implementing them. These will be our first steps on the road back.

Don’t forget – timecards due this week by Thursday Apr 9 .. Friday is a holiday.

My next note will be Mon Apr 13th.  Any staff member with questions, concerns or comments, please contact your supervisor, Department Head, Site Director, or me. As this situation continues, new challenges will emerge and I welcome hearing from you if there is something we can help with, or you have suggestions. The website containing all our COVID support information is: https://info.nrao.edu/covid-19

Tony Beasley