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Tesla Says Two Employees Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Chunying Zhang, Ed Ludlow and Dana Hull

(Bloomberg) -- Two Tesla Inc. employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an internal email.

The two staffers had been working from home for almost two weeks and were not symptomatic when they were in the office, according to the memo. Both are quarantined at home and recovering well, the company told employees.

The email was sent out by Tesla’s environment, health and safety department and signed by Laurie. The head of the division is Laurie Shelby, a vice president. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the memo, which doesn’t specify which office the employees worked in.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk last week capitulated to pressure from police and county health officials to suspend production at Tesla’s lone U.S. assembly plant in California. The state has confirmed more than 3,100 coronavirus cases, trailing only New York and New Jersey.

Tesla kept the factory open for several days despite shelter-in-place orders first made by San Francisco-area counties and then the governor. While the company said internally that its factory was an essential business, local officials publicly said otherwise.

Musk, 48, has dramatically shifted his tone on a viral illness that became a global pandemic. After weeks of downplaying virality and death rates, calling panic over the virus “dumb” and repeatedly tweeting his view that overreaction would do more harm than the disease itself, he’s now pledged to make ventilators and posted about donating masks to hospital workers.

(Updates with background in fourth paragraph)

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