At least 132 employees, or around 2.3 percent of its nearly 6,000 workers, at the SpaceX Corporate Headquarters in Hawthorne, California, have tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, according to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday.
Those figures account for nearly 30 percent of workplace COVID-19 cases in the county.
The outbreak comes as Omicron, a more transmissible but reportedly milder variant of COVID-19, continues to spread quickly in the United States and around the globe.
As of Dec. 20, the new strain has been detected in nearly every U.S. state and territory. The variant accounted for 73.2 percent of new cases in the week that ended Dec. 18, up from 12 percent the week before, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
On Dec. 21, what is widely believed to be the first death in the United States attributed to the new variant was reported in Houston, Texas, health officials announced.
An unvaccinated man in his 50s with unspecified underlying health conditions who had previously been infected with the virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, was named as a victim of the Omicron variant, Harris Country Public Health (HCPH) confirmed.
“The individual was at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to his unvaccinated status and had underlying health conditions,” health officials said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient’s family, and we extend our deepest sympathies,” said Barbie Robinson, HCPH executive director. “This is a reminder of the severity of COVID-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already.”
Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against holiday gatherings over Christmas due to fears over a surge in cases.
Ghebreyesus said in a briefing in Geneva on Monday that there was now “consistent evidence” that the newest variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant, and urged people to cancel or delay festive gatherings.
Earlier this month, Musk came out against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, telling Time Magazine that he believes such policies should not be put in place in the United States.
“Yes, yeah. I’m very pro-vaccination. The science is unequivocal, I’ve tweeted to that effect,” he said. “But by the same token I am against forcing people to be vaccinated. You know, I think this is just not something we should do in America. I think we should encourage people to be vaccinated, strongly try to convince them to be vaccinated, but not force them to be vaccinated, or for example, for them to get vaccinated or get fired.”