Story at a glance

  • Two workers with knowledge of the situation spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, telling the outlet that supervisors held team meetings and disclosed some employees had tested positive and those affected had been ordered to stay home.
  • A supervisor reportedly confirmed two positive cases at the electric vehicle manufacturer’s seat assembly facility, which is not far from the main production plant in Fremont, California.
  • On May 11, Musk announced Tesla would be restarting production that day against Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order. Tesla and Alameda County came to an agreement on May 18, allowing the company to formally restart production if it adhered to social distancing and other precautions.

Several Tesla employees tested positive for the coronavirus last month after Elon Musk defied local coronavirus restrictions to resume production at the company’s Fremont, California, factory, according to The Washington Post

Two workers with knowledge of the situation spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, telling the outlet that supervisors held team meetings and disclosed some employees had tested positive and those affected had been ordered to stay home. A supervisor reportedly confirmed two positive cases at the electric vehicle manufacturer’s seat assembly facility, which is not far from the main production plant in Fremont. Those affected reportedly included one from Tesla’s morning shift and another from the evening shift. 


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The Fremont plant closed in March, shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued a statewide stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. On May 11, Musk announced Tesla would be restarting production that day against Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order, adding “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”


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Tesla and Alameda County came to an agreement on May 18, allowing the company to formally restart production if it adhered to social distancing and other precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Employees had to be spread out in multiple shifts, wear masks, limit contact with each other, and Tesla had to report any positive coronavirus cases to the Alameda County Public Health Department. 

But since Tesla had already restarted operations a week before it was given approval to do so, there may have been cases that were never reported to the county — because Tesla was not required to do so before the agreement, the Post suggests. 

Alameda County spokeswoman Neetu Balram told the outlet if a person tested positive and were not a resident of the county, it’s possible “we would not have that case reported to us.” Balram said there were no known workplace-related infections of county residents associated with the car manufacturer. 

The ramping up of health and safety measures seems to have had a minimal effect on the factory’s daily operations, according to workers who spoke with the Post. 

“No social distancing at all when clocking in/out [because] people are...in a hurry to go home or get back to their work station,” one worker told the outlet. “It’s like nothing but with a mask on.” 

Musk first defied rules in March to shut down the plant, before local officials determined Tesla’s operations were not essential and must stop. 

In April, Musk rallied against coronavirus lockdowns meant to curb the spread, tweeting “FREE AMERICA NOW,” and calling the restrictions “fascist” during the company’s quarterly earnings call. 


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Published on Jun 09, 2020