COVID-19 Information

Following guidance from San Mateo County, SLAC has limited all on-site activity to those deemed essential in supporting the DOE mission - i.e. Stage 0 of our recovery plan. Current on-site activities include COVID-19-related research, site security, facility maintenance, custodial services, essential computing maintenance, and shipping & receiving. The latest shelter-in-place order, effective May 18, allows construction activities to resume. For SLAC, this means we can resume some on-site construction activities like LCLS-II.

SLAC employees looking for COVID-19 information, including FAQs, should visit the COVID-19 Resource Center, which requires an employee login.

Below are some FAQs for members of the public and those interested in visiting SLAC for tours, events, or to use our scientific facilities.



Information for Visitors and Users


How will visitors and Users be affected by the curtailment of on-site activity at SLAC? (last updated 06/13)

Visitors and Users will not be allowed on site during this period. The User Offices will update the community with information as the situation changes.

What are the plans for summer internship programs? (last updated 06/12)

SLAC will still be participating in and providing summer learning opportunities, but all opportunities will be offered remotely without exception, and only students residing in the U.S. can participate. Compared to previous years, we'll have more middle and high school participants and less college students. Employees can read more about summer internships and educational programs this year on SLAC Today.

When will SLAC resume tours? (last updated 04/02)

All SLAC tours are cancelled at this time until further notice. We will be taking guidance from public health officials when planning the resumption of tours and other events. Please check our website for updates on public tours and educational tours.

What procedures will be in effect for external/international Users at our facilities? (last updated 04/28)
The goal is to ensure the health and safety of everyone on site. When we reopen the lab to visitors and Users, they will all be subject to our safety protocols. However, this is unlikely to happen soon. With most universities and research institutions prohibiting travel for their staff and students, we will engage with our external User community to look at other ways to collaborate, including options for remote access to our facilities.

When will the run schedules for facilities be made available? (last updated 06/25)

We’re currently working on the re-commissioning plan for LCLS. The first task of certifying the Personnel Protection Systems has been completed, with the electron beam turned on in early June. Injector tuning is now underway. Next steps are to commission new transport lines and undulators for the accelerator, and commission new X-ray optics and hutches at LCLS. While we’re unable to confirm a timeline yet, we have sent out a call for proposals to the LCLS User community for initial experiments which will focus on COVID-19.

SSRL is currently operating a few beam lines for COVID-19-related research via remote access, with SPEAR3 at full current, and with minimal staffing. Run schedules for non-COVID-19 research will remain uncertain until the light source has started recovery for full operations. This will happen after the San Mateo County shelter-in-place order is lifted or modified in such a way that SLAC can start work on high-priority activities. The situation is too uncertain at the moment to provide any kind of timeline. See the SSRL website for updates.

Will the schedule for LCLS-II first light be moved out? (last updated 06/25)
The project is currently being re-baselined, and impacts will ultimately depend on how long the curtailment lasts. Almost all installation activities have restarted, with about 70% of the on-site project workforce back on site. Cryomodule testing and shipping activities have also resumed at partner labs Fermilab and Jefferson Lab. 



About On-site Safety


What protocols are in place for the use of masks on site? (last updated 06/25)

SLAC purchased cloth face coverings and began distributing them to on-site personnel on April 17. San Mateo county has also enacted a requirement for the use of face coverings when working or accessing essential services, effective April 22.

Anyone who will be interacting with others on site will need to wear a face covering. Even if you are working in isolation, you should carry a face covering with you at all times in case the need arises. Homemade face coverings are acceptable as long as they meet SLAC and CDC requirements (pdf), such as having two or more layers of fabric. Employees can refer to the COVID-19 Protocol Matrix and the cloth face covering guideline (pdf) for more.

Some activities will require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like N95 respirators and disposable gloves. Use of N95s will require medical clearance and fit-tests; being clean-shaven is another requirement for use. If you do not have medical clearance, we can look at other protective options, per SLAC’s usual protocol.

If you have your own N95 that doesn't have an exhalation valve, it can be worn in place of a cloth face covering. Masks with exhalation valves are not acceptable alternatives to cloth face coverings. The only time they are allowed is for Level 4 work, per SLAC’s COVID-19 Protocol Matrix, where all employees in the area would be in PPE with N95 respirators.

Please also note that SLAC and Stanford are in two different counties (San Mateo and Santa Clara, respectively), so county requirements may differ across the two.

What cleaning materials will be provided to support clean-as-you-go protocols on site? (last updated 06/12)

Currently, on-site personnel supporting essential activities are supplied by a mixture of donations and early procurement of wipes and sanitizer that are being distributed by Security since the start of the shelter-in-place orders. These are supplemented by supplies already on hand within directorates/departments.

As part of Stage 1 of recovery planning, we aim to procure wipes and sanitizer in bulk and stock them in Building 81. However, supplies are scarce nationwide and a consistent supply chain has not yet been established. F&O will coordinate with directorates and divisions to anticipate usage rates of materials and to replenish stock as needed. As always, departments will also have the ability to procure smaller volumes of administrative supplies using GSS and other purchase card sources. On June 2, F&O published a SLAC Today article for employees on the process for ordering clean-as-you-go supplies.

Will Health Check compliance be checked at the Main Gate? (last updated 05/11)

At the moment, there is no feasible way to check all people coming in through the Main Gate. The participation of all personnel in the daily Health Checks is key to the tool’s effectiveness.

We are currently working with Stanford IT, OHC and Security to investigate ways to tie in site access with completion of the health check, whether through a barcode on your phone or through the badging system.

Will external contractors be required to use the Health Check tool? (last updated 05/11)

We’re in discussions with Procurement, Legal, and contracting companies on the best way to implement employee screening for those employees - whether they use the Stanford Health Check tool or an equivalent program run by the contracting company.

How are we planning to control outside vendors and deliveries - will incoming drivers or visitors be screened? (last updated 05/11)

All outside vendors and contractors are required to comply with SLAC’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including requirements for face coverings, daily health screenings and clean-as-you-go.



How SLAC is Helping


What research is SLAC involved with to help with the pandemic? (last updated 05/11)

SSRL was turned back on during the week of March 23 with the intention of supporting COVID-19-related research. Several of the beam lines are optimized for remote use, allowing research to be conducted with very few people needed on site. In the same way that research at SSRL has contributed toward a better understanding of past epidemics such as the SARS coronavirus and Zika virus, we now hope to understand the atomic structure of the COVID-19 virus.

The Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facility is also being used to aid in COVID-19-related research. Cryo-EM allows us to study single particles without the use of crystals, making it easier to see the structures of cells. One of the unique capabilities at our facility is the ability to create 3D images of cell structures.

Equipment has been installed in the Arrillaga Science Center (Building 57) to supplement research already taking place in Building 6. Of particular interest to our researchers is how the virus enters a cell and interacts with cellular components.

Other activities we are involved in include working with the Joint Initiative for Metrology in Biology (JIMB) to develop global testing standards to ensure reliable testing for the coronavirus; studying ways to sterilize N95 masks with heat; designing noise-immune cables for remote control ventilators to reduce PPE usage; and prototyping a low cost, crisis-use ventilator using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and ICU-approved parts.

How is SLAC working with the DOE and other national labs? (last updated 05/11)

SLAC is part of the Department of Energy’s COVID-19 Working Group, which brings the 17 national labs together as a single virtual lab. The working group, also called the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL) consortium, is led by Office of Science Director Chris Fall and leverages the broad range of advanced scientific tools, deep technical knowledge, and unique expertise of all 17 national labs in a coordinated and rapid response to COVID-19.
This system-wide effort is developing ideas and approaches in a number of areas, including bioimaging, therapeutics, computing, sterilization and decontamination, viral fate and transport, next generation testing, large scale environmental testing, materials and advanced manufacturing, and supply chains, with $100m in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. SLAC is part of six multi-lab proposal teams that have made submissions for the NVBL R&D initiative.
Our people are also teaming up with the Bay Area labs (LBNL, Livermore and Sandia) to plan a local, virtual lab to provide a framework for the national collaboration.

Could LCLS help in COVID-19 research? (last updated 04/07)

Yes – X-ray Free Electron Lasers such as the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) produce extremely bright pulses of X-rays that allow us to study the coronavirus under natural conditions, such as at room temperature. This can more accurately reveal how the virus is structured, how it attacks a host, and how it interacts with potential drugs under conditions that are close to those in the human body.

An important benefit for coronavirus research is the ability of LCLS to obtain high resolution structures of proteins from very small crystals that would otherwise be unsuitable for such measurements. This is important in the development of antivirals because the envelope protein that enables infection by the coronavirus is very difficult to crystallize.

Rapid access to LCLS beam time will be prioritized for coronavirus research, with an emphasis on crystals of the proteins bound with known drug candidates. The ability to screen large numbers of such complexes will accelerate effective therapy development.

What can SLAC and our employees do to donate supplies or help the community? (last updated 04/01)

SLAC is involved in efforts by both Stanford and the Department of Energy to help with medical equipment shortages. Stanford’s Haas center is also working on creating a website with information on how to give back locally, which we will share with staff when ready.

The DOE’s Office of Science has formed a working group with representatives from all 17 national labs to tackle a number of challenges, such as producing medical masks using 3D printing and increasing the capacity for COVID-19 testing. We have also, along with the other labs, provided the DOE with information on what excess PPE we have that could be provided to support healthcare.

SLAC has also formed a working group at the lab to coordinate with the DOE and to connect Stanford with this process.

The Communications Team has compiled a list of ways in which individuals can help the community, and created a Slack channel to connect people interested in contributing. Employees can see the SLAC Today article for more.



COVID-19 Resources