The plant, located in Alameda County, reopened in May of last year despite officials ordering it to stay shuttered until at least June.
Musk – who decried government lockdowns as ‘fascist’ – tweeted on May 11: ‘Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.’
Several days later, the billionaire reached an agreement with officials to allow the reopening of the plant as long as all COVID cases at the facility were reported to the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Data from the Department was obtained by The Washington Post under freedom of information laws on Saturday.
It shows around 450 employees contracted COVID-19 between May and December 2020. The plant employs close to 10,000 workers.
Hundreds of employees at Tesla’s plant in California contracted COVID-19 after Elon Musk urged them to return to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, a bombshell report in The Washington Post reveals
Musk decried government lockdowns as ‘fascist’ and reopened the plant in defiance of government guidelines
Last year, Musk faced criticism over the treatment of his workers at the Tesla factory.
After the plant reopened in May, Tesla told its employees that they could remain home if they felt uncomfortable about returning to the production line.
They stated that the decision to do so would not affect job security.
However, last June, two Telsa workers told The Washington Post that they received termination notices for ‘failure to return to work’.
Human resources told the workers they were fired for failure to show up and difficulties in contacting them, although the employees say they had proof they remained in touch with their supervisors.
Meanwhile, half a dozen other employees spoke with the publication alleging unsafe working conditions at the plant.
Some of the employees who came forward requested anonymity for fear of losing their positions because they did not have authorization to speak to media.
The workers alleged that Tesla was not enforcing proper social distancing or other rules set up to contain the spread of the virus and protect workers, including requirements for masks and sanitizing plant equipment.
One worker complained that employees were ‘hovering over each other.’
Last June, two Telsa workers told The Washington Post that they received termination notices for ‘failure to return to work’. One of them is pictured protesting outside the plant
Workers are pictured wait in line for a shuttle at the Tesla factory on May 12 – the day after Musk ordered it be reopened