The 2020 outbreak of COVID-19 affected all of the Labs’ sites with enforced stay-at-home orders in most locations. The Chemistry, Combustion and Materials Science Center, including the CRF, is located in California where the governor mandated a statewide quarantine in March 2020, which stayed in force for more than eight weeks.
Sarah Allendorf, Center Director, worked with her team to restore critical functions while ensuring that no one contracts COVID-19 while at work. Chris Moen, head of the engineering and transportation sciences group, used an engineered-safety approach to identify and effectively control hazards in buildings and labs. The novel coronavirus carried with it so many unknowns, from its longevity on surfaces to safe distance from others. The Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense and Energy Technologies Center—which comprises medical doctors, virologists and other biological scientists—was already working to understand the virus and its rapid spread and readily shared its expertise. Together with Sandia’s industrial hygiene team, these centers developed a safety system that included public health best practices and industrial hygiene lesson learned based on experience with other communicable diseases and operational health and safety measures. The CRF, in particular, has been able to continue operations by taking measures to mitigate COVID-19. CRF personnel have been adaptable and resilient throughout this pandemic crisis, and are eager to continue their work in full force as restrictions ease.