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the coronavirus crisis

Tesla employees reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 after Musk ignored lockdown to reopen

Some California Tesla employees reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in May after CEO Elon Musk restarted production in defiance of orders from the county.

Musk last month announced production had resumed at Tesla's facility in Fremont, California, despite shelter-in-place orders in Alameda County amid the pandemic. Tesla had sued the county over its stay-at-home order, and Musk said he was willing to be arrested over resuming production. The county ultimately allowed Tesla to reopen while operating "minimum business operations" and following social distancing guidelines.

Now, The Washington Post reports that several Tesla employees in California tested positive for COVID-19 last month days after production restarted. The report cites two anonymous workers, one of whom "said a supervisor confirmed two positive cases to a group at the Fremont-based seat assembly facility" near the main plant. The affected employees were reportedly told to stay home.

The Post notes that the agreement Tesla reached with Alameda County required them to report positive COVID-19 cases to the health department, but since production actually started before that, "there could have been cases that were never reported to the county."

Musk's California reopening came following a series of public comments in which he railed against lockdown measures put into place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, in one tweet demanding, "FREE AMERICA NOW." He had previously downplayed the threat of COVID-19, in March incorrectly predicting there would be "close to zero" new cases by the end of April.