A spokesperson from NASA confirmed that a staff member of the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the worsening condition of the outbreak, NASA has decided to suspend some of its operations including those related to the upcoming human mission to the Moon.
The employee from the Kennedy Space Center is the latest staff member of NASA to test positive for COVID-19. Last week, the agency reported that an engineer from its Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was infected by the disease.
NASA's Latest Confirmed COVID-19 Case
News about the employee from NASA's Kennedy Space Center was confirmed by Tracy Young, the agency's spokesperson for the facility. As noted by Young, the employee most likely didn't contract the virus while working at the facility in Florida. The spokesperson explained that the employee probably got infected by the virus NASA instituted a telecommuting order for all its employees.
"This employee was last at the center more than 10 days ago," Young told Florida Today. "Based on the circumstances and elapsed time since the employee was on-site, we believe it was acquired after they had started teleworking and there is no additional risk at the center from this person."
Effect Of Outbreak On NASA's Operations
Due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases with the agency and the country, NASA has started implementing new measures to minimize the exposure of its employees to the virus. Aside from asking all of its staff members to work from home, NASA has already begun suspending operations related to its future missions.
One of the operations affected by the issue is the work on the Space Launch System rocket, which is a powerful deep-space launch vehicle designed to carry the Orion crew module for the Moon 2024 mission.
As noted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, ceasing certain operations of the agency was a necessary move in order to ensure the safety of its employees. "We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce," he said according to the AFP.