Two more cases of COVID-19 were reported at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant last week, bringing the nuclear waste repository’s total to 260 infections among workers.
The latest infections were reported between March 11 and 17.
WIPP also reported three active cases of COVID-19 where infected workers were recovering and not cleared to return to work.
Last week’s report marked the sixth week in a row of less than five COVID-19 cases reported at the facility, as the pandemic appeared to subside throughout New Mexico and the southeast region where WIPP is situated.
Officials with WIPP and Nuclear Waste Partnership – the contractor that oversees daily WIPP operations – credited the decline in cases, compared with multiple weeks of double-digit infection loads during the fall and winter, to an overall decrease in the local area.
Personnel at the facility reportedly continued following COVID-19 precautions in maintaining social distance, washing hands and sanitizing workspaces and teleworking when possible.
“Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership continue to work with all employees to ensure Department of Health and CDC guidelines are followed,” read a statement from WIPP.
WIPP is located near the border of Eddy and Lea counties, both of which reported new COVID-19 infections on Monday.
Eddy County had four new cases for a total 6,619 and Lea County saw an uptick with 22 new cases with a total caseload of 8,172.
Bernalillo County, home to Albuquerque, New Mexico’s biggest city and main urban area, continued to lead the state with 54,118 cases after 67 new infections were reported on Monday.
Dona Ana County, with the state’s second-biggest city Las Cruces, was in second with 24 new cases for a total of 23,557 infections.
In total, New Mexico had 167 new cases, per the latest data, for a total of 189,893.
Three people were reported dead from the virus on Monday: a man in his 50s from Lea County, and a man in his 20s and woman in her 80s from San Juan County.
New Mexico health officials were expected to update the state’s COVID-19 risk map on Thursday, looking at the risk of infection by county based on benchmarks – an 8 percent or less positivity rate and no more than five infections per 100,000 people.
Eddy County is designated “yellow” after meeting one of the benchmarks, while Lea County passed both and was listed as “green.”
Past COVID-19 cases at WIPP
- March 4 to March 10 – One worker reported being infected with the virus.
- Feb. 25 to March 3 – One worker was reported infected, last at the site on Feb. 23.
- Feb. 18 to 24 – Two workers were infected, last at the site between Feb. 16 and 24.
- Feb. 11 to 17 – Two workers reported positive test results, last at the site between Feb. 4 and 8.
- Feb. 4 to 10 – Three WIPP were reported infected, last at the site from Jan. 27 to Feb. 8.
- Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 – Six WIPP workers were reported infected, last at the site from Jan. 18 to 28.
- Jan. 20 to 27 – Six workers with NWP were reportedly infected, last at the site from Jan. 11 to 20.
- Jan. 13 to 19 – 14 workers reported positive, last at the site between Dec. 3 and Jan. 17.
- Jan. 6 to 12 – 25 workers tested positive: 23 from NWP, one subcontractor and one from the CBFO, last at the site between March 24 and Jan. 6.
- Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 – 15 cases: 10 NWP, three subcontractors, one at CBFO and one at a CBFO subcontractor, last at the site between March 24 and Dec. 28.
- Dec. 22 and 28 – Six positives reported, all NWP employees last at site between Dec. 3 and 18.
- Dec. 16 to 21 – Nine positives reported, seven NWP employees and two from subcontractors, last at the site between Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.
- Dec. 9 to 15 – Seven positives report, six at NWP and one subcontractor last at the site between Nov. 24 and Dec. 9.
- Dec. 2 to Dec. 8 – 16 cases reported, 12 NWP, three subcontractor employees and one from the CBFO.
- Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 – Eight cases reported, seven from NWP and one subcontractor last at the site March 24 to Nov. 23.
- Nov. 18 to 23 – 13 positive cases reported, nine NWP, three subcontractor, one CBFO last at the site Oct. 26 to Nov. 19.
- Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 – 20 cases reported, 15 NWP, four subcontractor and one from CBFO, last at the site from March 24 to Nov. 12.
- Nov. 4 to Nov. 10 – 20 cases reported, 11 NWP, six subcontractor and four CBFO employees last at the site between March 24 and Nov. 8.
- Oct. 27 to Nov. 28 – Four positives reported, last at site Oct. 8 and 26.
- Oct. 18 to 26 – 17 cases reported, last at the site Oct. 3 and 23.
- Oct. 8 to 17 – 18 cases reported, last at site Sept. 17 and Oct. 14.
- Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 – Six positives reported. Three last at site Oct. 1 and others Sept. 20 to 30.
- Sept. 23 to 29 – Two positives reported, one was last at site on Sept. 16 and other not since July.
- Sept. 16 to 22 – One positive reported, last at site Sept. 16.
- Sept. 10 to 15 – Two positives. One last at site Sept. 2 and other on extended leave.
- Sept. 5 to 9 – Two positives. One NWP and one subcontractor last at site between Aug. 20 and Sept. 2.
- Sept. 2 to 3 – Four NWP employees tested positive, last at the site from Aug. 16 to 27.
- Aug. 3 to 27 – 15 NWP employees tested positive, and one worker at Regulatory Environmental Services, last at the site July 30 to Aug. 30.
- July 21 – One NWP employee tested positive, last at the site July 7
- July 9 – One CAST Specialty Trucking employee who worked at trucking terminal in Carlsbad where WIPP trucks transit tested positive.
- June 19 – One NWP employee tested positive, teleworking since March.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.