Energy Department Labs Close to Thousands of Visitors

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has begun to restrict access and to ramp down activities at its national laboratories in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The labs serve more than 30,000 visiting researchers each year. Of the 10 Office of Science laboratories, nine have reported various degrees of closings.

Department of Energy labs, such as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are closing due federal regulations regarding COVID-19. Courtesy of PNNL.

Department of Energy labs, such as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are closing to the public due federal regulations regarding COVID-19. Courtesy of PNNL.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Richland, Wash.
Most staff to work from home. Most visits suspended except for essential business visits. Public events postponed or canceled. 

Brookhaven National Laboratory Upton, N.Y.
Access is suspended for all non-Brookhaven users, visitors, and guests, with some exceptions.

Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, Ill.
Restrictions to non-Argonne employees for 30 days.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Batavia, Ill.
Closed to the public.

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility Newport News, Va.
Community members to begin working from home if possible. Campus closed to off-site visitors until further notice.

Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. Princeton, N.J.

All public events suspended until further notice.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, Calif.
On-site staffing levels reduced, following shelter-in-place order for six Bay Area counties.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Stanford, Calif.
Ceasing all on-site functions except those deemed government-essential.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Visits suspended until further notice. All tours suspended.

Many of DOE’s 17 national labs have ordered nonessential personnel to work from home. As of yet, Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa has not reported a decision.

Chris Fall, director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, sent an open letter on March 12 to DOE-sponsored researchers asking for suggestions for how they could help fight the virus. X-ray synchrotrons, such as the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, can help decipher the structures of proteins associated with the virus. The Summit supercomputer can sort through data to help find drugs to combat the disease.

“DOE is coordinating closely with the White House and our interagency partners in the unified response to the coronavirus,” the department said in a statement. “We have been in communication with our employees across the country throughout this event and have encouraged them to take appropriate precautions and follow CDC guidance. DOE leadership will be issuing further guidance as the situation evolves.”

Published: March 2020
BusinesscoronavirusDepartment of EnergyDepartment of Energy Office of SciencePacific Northwest National LaboratoryBrookhaven National LaboratoryArgonne National LaboratoryFermi National Accelerator LaboratoryThomas Jefferson National Accelerator FacilityPrinceton Plasma Physics LabLawrence Berkeley National LaboratorySLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryOak Ridge National Laboratory

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