All NASA facilities including Kennedy Space Center were moved to a higher alert level on Tuesday in response to coronavirus concerns.

All NASA facilities including Kennedy Space Center were moved to a higher alert level on Tuesday in response to coronavirus concerns, the agency confirmed.


“This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework," Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice."


Coronavirus Florida: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to close due to COVID-19 concerns


He noted that mission-essential personnel, such as teams required for critical operations and infrastructure, will be allowed to continue working at NASA centers.


“Although a limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities," Bridenstine said.



KSC confirmed to FLORIDA TODAY on Tuesday that the center has no employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.


But that doesn't mean all activities are halted – SpaceX, for example, is targeting 8:16 a.m. Wednesday for the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from KSC's pad 39A, though the mission is not related to NASA. The pad is leased and operated by SpaceX for its own missions.


As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 197,168 confirmed worldwide cases of COVID-19 and 7,905 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., those numbers stood at 6,421 and 108.


"You should anticipate continued frequent communication from your center director, myself and others," Bridenstine said.



This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.