Last year, at least 400 cases of COVID-19 were recorded from May to December at Tesla's Fremont plant after employees returned to work, according to a report procured by the Washington Post.
The EV giant's massive East Bay factory was the center of national media attention in 2020 after a deluge of critical press. Elon Musk now famously threw a tantrum on Twitter about having to halt production lines and threatened to leave the state — which Musk, himself, since has — and move his Tesla production factory elsewhere; Fremont plant workers returned to production lines (against advice from public health officials and Alameda County's COVID-19 safety protocols); there were ongoing quality issues with the company's Model 3 electric car that was rushed into mass production. And adding fuel to the fire, a new finding from the Washington Post — courtesy of data procured from PlainSite, a U.S.-based website that's dedicated to legal data transparency — shows that between May and December of 2020, more than 400 coronavirus infections were reported at the Fremont facility.
New! From the Alameda County Department of Public Health, one year after our initial request, a single table summarizing how many COVID-19 reports the Department received from the $TSLA Fremont factory.— PlainSite (@PlainSite) March 13, 2021
Note, it only started keeping track in May and it stops in December 2020. pic.twitter.com/MOnzQwCRFS
The Chronicle also reported the bombshell report, citing that the PlainSite had requested case numbers for the Tesla facility from the Alameda County Public Health Department much earlier, which were eventually then aggregated with previous documents, to reveal that hundreds of COVID-19 cases were recorded at the Fremont plant.
"It should surprise no one that the number of cases [Tesla] reported to Alameda County for mid-May and June/July 2020 is far below the number of 'exposures' tracked internally," reads a tweet from the data transparency website. "Records requests are typically difficult but this one (still ongoing) has been awful."
It should surprise no one that the number of cases $TSLA reported to Alameda County for mid-May and June/July 2020 is far below the number of "exposures" tracked internally. pic.twitter.com/EH5sauc37b— PlainSite (@PlainSite) March 13, 2021
Back in May, we reported on the fact that some production lines at the facility had been operating — in clear violation of Alameda County’s shelter-in-place orders, spurred by the pandemic. The ensuing news coverage put a national spotlight on Tesla production line employees being exploited for company profit gains and started a conversation on acceptable working conditions amid the pandemic.
Cases of the novel respiratory disease reported at the facility started with less than a dozen cases in May, but that figure steadily rose over the seven months. By the end of December, 125 cases of COVID-19 were found at the factory; in November of 2020, it was 77 cases.
Before the pandemic began, the newspaper noted that around 10,000 employees worked at the Fremont plant on regular operating days. However, it’s unclear how many have worked at the site since reopening.
Earlier this week, a small fire broke out at the factory, as well; no injuries were reported and the blaze, which was caused by hydraulic fluid coming in contact with molten aluminum, took place in a part of the factory property that was under construction.
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Image: An aerial view of the Tesla Fremont Factory on May 12, 2020 in Fremont, California. Alameda County has ordered Tesla's CEO Elon Musk to halt production at Tesla Fremont Factory days after Musk defiantly opened up the electric car manufacturing facility against a county ordinance. Musk insists that his company has been called an essential business by the state of California and should be allowed to be operational despite the county order. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)