Only minimum basic operations are allowed. Will Tesla respect that?
Our article about Tesla still producing cars under lockdown in Alameda County reported 4,661 people in the US affected by COVID-19 and 85 deaths. One day later, the number is 6,496 sick individuals and 114 deaths, increases of respectively 39.4, and 34.1 percent. Apparently, the Alameda County Sheriff decided enough is enough and said in a tweet Tesla could no longer make cars.
Here's what the Alameda County Sheriff had to say about that:
The message states the company is only entitled to keep minimum basic operations at the Fremont factory, which are also defined by the Alameda County order to shelter. Check the definition for that below:
“g. For the purposes of this Order, ‘Minimum Basic Operations’ include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:
i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.”
Since the meaning of Social Distancing Requirements is also relevant, here it is:
“j. For purposes of this Order, ‘Social Distancing Requirements’ includes maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.”
Unless the Fremont factory was fully automatized – as Elon Musk once wished it was – there is no way the manufacturing process can comply with the "Social Distancing Requirements." With around 2,500 workers in each shift, the potential to increase the spread of the virus is very high.
Although the Johns Hopkins University world map for coronavirus spread graphically shows how serious the situation is, there are people with the firm belief that this is a movement to harm Tesla.
Some others are worried both with politics and with "saving the world."
Truth is this is a public health policy regardless of what it involves. UAW has seemingly given up on trying to put some sense into the CEOs of the Big Three and has stated in a letter it will take the conversation to "the next level" should these companies fail to protect workers properly. There is no way to do so other than shutting factories down. All of them.
Tesla does not have UAW in its factories and there are people that claim to be employees asking for help on Twitter.
One of them explains why that story that workers feeling "slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable" should not "feel obligated" to go to the factory will not work.
Social distancing is crucial to avoid contamination. This Quartz article shows that pretty well regarding a past pandemic: the Spanish flu.
On March 17, Italy had 27,980 cases, with 2,158 deaths. On March 18, it currently has 31,506 infected people; 2,503 have died.
Gallery: Will Tesla Shut Down Fremont Due To The Coronavirus Outbreak?
Sergio Romagnani, a clinical immunology professor at the Università di Firenze, put an entire city to the test. The Vo' Euganeo population revealed 50 percent to 75 percent of people contaminated with COVID-19 did not present symptoms. That means they were silently spreading the disease around. This is why most car factories in Europe are already closed.
There is no reason to believe it would be any different in the US or its many facilities. Stopping for two weeks will undoubtedly cause massive economic troubles. However, there is no better solution than waiting for the virus to die on the surfaces where it still is or fully manifests in infected people. Two weeks is what it takes if social distancing is appropriately followed.
If people understand politics or business concerns must stay out of this, we may preserve thousands of lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has to be stopped immediately. Until a vaccine is developed, we have no better solution than avoiding contact.