“Keeping the Curve Flat” A Message from Ames Federal Employees Union

Image By Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris – https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/09-03-2020/the-three-phases-of-covid-19-and-how-we-can-make-it-manageable/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87867223

Dear Bargaining Unit Members,

The Union Executive Board and I have been discussing the Corona Virus like everyone else these days. Here is a synopsis of what we think you should know.

The good news is that no new cases of COVID 19 have been reported for any Ames civil service or contractor employees. The bad news is that a new case has been reported at Marshall Space Flight Center. If you keep up with the CDC news, you know we are now at a pivotal point in our response to the corona pandemic, we can either help contain this virus or allow it to continue the exponential curve of infection we have seen so far.  Our NASA leadership has been working hard in their response to limit the spread of infection and we applaud their valiant efforts.  Now it is time for us to do our part.

We all need to take this virus seriously. It is different from the past viral infections, partly because we were caught unprepared as a nation, but mostly because at first the symptoms are mild and imperceptive, and then suddenly turn deadly. I have talked to the Ames employee who tested positive, and heard from another patient in Europe about their experience with the infection. Both had said they felt fine and went about their daily activities, but suddenly were unable to get enough oxygen in their lungs to the point of distress and believed that they would have died if it were not for the urgent medical care they received. Both were contagious during the phase of minor symptoms, but the symptoms were so innocuous, they did not believe they were sick.  So it is possible that they passed the virus to others.

So how do you deal with a virus that shows no symptoms by the infected host until it is almost too late? We need to treat everyone as if they are potential vectors. No handshaking, no hugging, keep distance from each other of 4-6 feet. If you have symptoms, isolate yourself immediately; if you must go out, wear a mask.  Wash your hands often and vigorously with soap and water.  If we are going to flatten the exponential growth curve, we need to start doing it now.

Stay home as much as possible. Take this time to set up your telework agreement if you don’t have one. Most of us are teleworking, but some of us have to be at work. If you are not ill, it is easy to fall back on normal routines and behaviors, but you must stay vigilant. Social distancing is not normal for the social creatures we are, so it will be difficult and might feel impolite but it is the best way to “keep the curve flat.”

Also, read your Center-wides. There is almost too much email to keep up with but if you have any questions about telework, coming back to the Center, travel, SATERN training etc. there is an email or web page about it. Recently the County has issued a “Shelter in Place” order and those details are in the Centerwide.

If you do not have your computer to access Center-wides, check out http://arcsos.arc.nasa.gov

Feel free to contact any of the Union Executive Board if you have additional questions or concerns.

Suzanne Meyer

President

AFEU/IFPTE Local 30