Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor Vol. 25 No. 3
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Nuclear Security & Deterrence
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January 22, 2021

Vaccinations Start at Some NNSA Sites as COVID Recoveries Outpace New Confirmed Infections

By Dan Leone

Vaccinations have started at some National Nuclear Security Administration sites, which as a group racked up more than 150 new COVID-19 cases this week, with recoveries outpacing new confirmed infections, according to agency data.

The labs that received vaccines did not reply to questions about how many workers they had vaccinated, at deadline. The Nevada National Security Site said it had vaccinated more than 800 people as of Friday afternoon.

Overall, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) had 851 active COVID-19 cases at deadline Friday for Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor: down 24 from a week ago. With 3,517 recoveries and 10 fatalities since the pandemic reached the U.S. about a year ago, that makes for more than 4,300 cumulative cases at the Department of Energy’s semiautonomous nuclear weapons steward.

As of Friday, the management and operations contractors for the Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico “are active vaccine providers for DOE/NNSA federal, contractor, and subcontractor employees,” an NNSA spokesperson wrote Friday in an email. So is the contractor for the Nevada National Security Site, more than 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the spokesperson said.

New Mexico, under phase 1b of its vaccine distribution program, permits vaccinations for employees of “[l]aboratories and defense and national security-related operations supporting the United States government, or contractors to the United States government or any federal entity who are unable to work remotely and/or telework.”

The site management contractors for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, “are authorized to be a provider (for DOE/NNSA feds, contractors, and subcontractors) but have not received an allocation of vaccines,” the NNSA spokesperson said.

The Savannah River Site, run by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management “is authorized to be a provider as a closed vaccination site but has not received an allocation of vaccines,” the NNSA spokesperson wrote. 

NNSA does some nuclear weapons work at the Savannah River, currently passing most of the funding for the work through the Environmental Management office’ site management contractor.

NNSA’s labs have typically had many fewer people inside the fence during the pandemic than have the production sites, Pantex, the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Kansas City National Security Campus in Kansas City, Mo. 

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