Tesla attempts to calm Fremont workers amid rising concerns over potentially inadequate COVID-19 protections

Tesla's VP of environmental, health and safety sent a letter to employees stating that there had been zero workplace transmissions.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
Tesla Fremont factory

Workers at Tesla's newly reopened Fremont factory are concerned over what they say are inadequate safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Worker safety at Fremont factory is something for which the company has long been criticized, and since restarting production in May of this year during the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a whole new layer of concern for employees.

According to a report published Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle, Fremont's management sent out an email in an attempt to allay worker concerns over what they view as less than stringent safety practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

The letter --  sent by Laurie Shelby, Tesla vice president of environmental, health and safety -- makes some pretty bold claims and offers little in the way of proof or even methodology to verify them.

"Since we restarted operations, we have had zero COVID-19 workplace transmissions," said Shelby, in her statement to employees. "COVID-19 exposure has occurred outside the workplace primarily through family members or housemates, and in most instances, the employee followed safety protocol, informed their manager and stayed home or went to get tested."

Furthermore, the Washington Post recently reported -- citing an anonymous source -- that there had been COVID infections at Tesla's seat plant, which is located near the main factory in Fremont. Tesla hasn't verified these claims, but the rumors are still cause for concern.

Previous measures taken by Tesla to prevent infection during reopening included staggering shifts and taking workers' temperatures on a one-at-a-time basis. Those measures are no longer in effect. The shifts are no longer staggered, and now employee temperatures are monitored by thermal cameras.

Several Fremont factory workers who spoke to CNBC on condition of anonymity mentioned that it was nigh impossible to comply with Alameda County Health Department guidelines governing the sanitization of shared tools, maintaining social distancing during shifts or even during breaks.

We reached out to Tesla for further information, but the manufacturer didn't respond immediately.

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