LANL Director Thom Mason Gives Update On Lab’s COVID-19 Response

spotlightLos Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason. Photo Courtesy LANL

Los Alamos National Laboratory

I’d like to update you on how Los Alamos National Laboratory is continuing to respond to the current public health emergency and how we are protecting employees, families, and the wider community while carrying out our mission on behalf of the nation.

Laboratory operations
We are working closely with partners and colleagues at the federal, state, and local levels to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority is to protect the health of our workforce and our surrounding communities by taking measures to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

The Laboratory is currently functioning at a status known as “mission-critical operations”, consistent with guidance from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of New Mexico. The majority of our employees are working from home. Onsite, we are maintaining staff required to provide management and oversight and to support key national security activities that the NNSA has deemed mission-essential.

To protect the segment of our workforce that is onsite, we are taking steps to minimize social contact such as staggered schedules, widespread use of video teleconferencing, and maintaining a six-foot distance from each other. Common areas and common touch points are frequently sanitized.

Scientific response
I have established a new office to coordinate the many requests for Laboratory capabilities to support the COVID-19 response. Within the office, six working groups are focused on different areas including computer modeling, laboratory testing options, and medical countermeasures.

As part of the Department of Energy’s efforts to combat COVID-19, LANL is making our supercomputing capabilities accessible to the broader research community to accelerate research into the origins and development of COVID-19 and to develop urgently needed treatments and vaccines. You can learn more about our scientific work to tackle COVID-19 here.

Community response
The Laboratory’s Community Partnerships Office has teamed with nonprofits in the area to direct resources to those in need, including New Mexico’s healthcare workers, children, and those who have lost their jobs.

Laboratory operator Triad, LLC. is contributing a total of $40,000 to the emergency response funds of the Taos Community Foundation, the Los Alamos Community Foundation (which serves Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties), and the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

We have also been providing ways for our employees help their communities.

Last week, the Laboratory launched an emergency, online-only food drive with The Food Depot, one of our regional partners, and employees have donated more than $36,000 to the appeal so far, enough to provide 144,000 meals. The Laboratory’s managing operator Triad has contributed a further $10,000.

We have also encouraged employees to volunteer with nonprofits such as The Food Depot and Kitchen Angels, and to consider donating blood. The Laboratory helped organize a blood drive in Los Alamos on April 9, and future blood drives are already planned for later in the month.

For the latest information on the Laboratory’s response to COVID-19, please visit our regularly updated public information page. Our Emergency Operations Center and Pandemic Advisory Team are working around the clock to guide Laboratory operations and response.

Our Laboratory family remains committed to our employees and to our larger regional community. Caring for one another during this trying time will ensure that we all emerge stronger.