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Tesla safety boss tries to calm factory workers, some are concerned about lax coronavirus precautions

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Tesla’s safety leader Laurie Shelby sent an e-mail to employees who work at its Fremont, California, vehicle assembly plant on Thursday to assuage their concerns about new infections among employees. However, some employees say that despite Shelby’s email, they remain worried about infections and lax safety precautions in Fremont.

In the internal communication, which was previously reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, Shelby wrote: 

“Since we restarted operations, we have had zero COVID-19 workplace transmissions. COVID-19 exposure has occurred outside the workplace primarily through family members or housemates, and in most instances, the employee followed safety protocol, informed their manager and stayed home or went to get tested.”

The email did not explain how Tesla arrived at these conclusions, or who may have conducted testing and contact tracing to determine when and where Tesla employees were infected. Tesla and Shelby did not immediately return requests for comment.

Shelby’s email comes days after the Washington Post reported that employees at the company’s seat manufacturing facility, a couple of miles away from the main car factory, had tested positive for the virus, citing anonymous sources. The report did not specify where or how these workers contracted the coronavirus.

However, some employees say that they’re concerned given current conditions in the plant. 

Three production employees there told CNBC on Thursday and Friday that it’s impossible to do their work building cars while complying with the safety rules that the Alameda County Public Health Department said Tesla must implement in order to remain open. These people asked to remain unnamed because they are not authorized to discuss workplace conditions.

Specifically, these employees said, they cannot wear a face covering during their entire shift, thoroughly clean shared tools and equipment between shifts, and keep social distance between coworkers during work, or even during breaks.

Shifts were previously on a staggered schedule to help employees avoid crowding while entering and exiting the facility, but they are not staggered any more, these employees noted. Workers’ temperatures used to be taken personally as they entered the facility, but thermal cameras now scan them as they enter.

Assembling cars at Tesla requires working physically close together, often in enclosed spaces, to complete a task over and over again in less than a minute or two. The work is sweat-inducing.

One person said most employees working on the indoor general assembly line, known as GA3, do not cover their mouths and noses throughout their shifts. It’s too hard to breathe with a mask on, they said, even though the company makes plenty of the surgical masks available.

Because it’s a fireable offense to work without a face covering, many keep their surgical masks hanging under their chins and pull them up if a supervisor walks by, employees said, but even supervisors have been lax about the rules in some cases.

Employees noted that many colleagues have been coughing, sneezing and wheezing. 

A spokesperson for the Fremont Police told CNBC they have not inspected the factory facilities since May 13.

The Alameda County Public Health Department has declined to provide site-specific, anonymized data that would reveal whether Tesla managed to keep infections at bay, or if there had been an outbreak at the Fremont factory since it reopened in defiance of local health orders, with full shifts producing cars the weekend of May 9th.

“We are not disclosing information about number of cases at specific employer settings,” a spokesperson for the Health Deapartment said. “This would be protected health information under HIPAA and we would not disclose it for any of the cases we know about, regardless of their employer.”

By contrast, site-specific, anonymized data about senior living businesses, prisons, and meat processing plants have been available across the US.

The stakes are high for the county and Tesla both.

Any outbreak of Covid-19 at Tesla could force Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker to once again suspend operations, or cancel shifts early for deep cleaning at least in Fremont. He has already sued, and withdrawn a suit, against the county for Covid-19 restrictions.

Infections that prove harmful or fatal to employees could also leave Tesla subject to OSHA or police inspections and fines, or leave Tesla and the county facing lawsuits. 

Tesla shares closed down 3.86% on Friday after analysts at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock.

Here is what Laurie Shelby, vice president of environment, health and safety wrote to Tesla Fremont employees on June 11th (e-mail transcribed by CNBC): 

Hi everyone,

Since we restarted operations, we have had zero COVID-19 workplace transmissions. COVID-19 exposure has occurred outside the workplace primarily through family members or housemates, and in most instances, the employee followed safety protocol, informed their manager and stayed home or went to get tested.

If there is any potential or confirmed COVID case at Tesla, regardless of where transmission took place, our protocol is to interview the individual, investigate their whereabouts and speak with their managers to determine who had contact with the individual at work. We speak with all individuals who had direct and extended contact, and quarantine those individuals to watch for symptoms.

We have also implemented additional cleaning measures in our facilities as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health organizations.

To minimize exposure, please stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands, wear your PPE properly and maintain distance from others where possible. Continue to do your daily health check, and reach out to me or the EHS team at [Ed. E-mail redacted] if you have any questions or would like additional information or training. Tesla also has COVID-paid sick leave so you don’t have to choose between your health and finances. Contact your HR partner to learn more.

We want to hear from you so we can continue to use your feedback to improve processes and ensure effectiveness. Please use this survey or the survey QR code in newsletters and on the TV screens.

Thank you,

Laurie

WATCH: Tesla shares tumble after two analyst downgrades.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/12/tesla-laurie-shelby-email-on-covid-19-fremont-workers-worried.html

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eBay makes a dedicated portal for officially refurbished gear

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eBay launches a Certified Refurbished site for used goods
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eBay is taking on Amazon Warehouse with a new destination called Certified Refurbished, selling used goods from brands like Lenovo, Microsoft and Makita. The idea is that you can buy second-hand products at significant discounts over new, but still get a two-year warranty (from Allstate), a money-back guarantee and 30-day “hassle-free” returns, along with new accessories, manuals and manufacturer-sealed packaging.

eBay’s Certified Refurbished has five priority categories: laptops, portable audio,power tools, small kitchen appliances and vacuums. It offers several brand exclusives, including De’Longhi, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Makita and Philips, along with inventory exclusives from Dewalt, iRobot and Skullcandy. It’s also selling products from participating brands including Dell, Acer, Bissel, Black & Decker, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Lenovo, Microsoft, Miele and Sennheiser.

To make the cut, manufacturers must offer items in “pristine, like-new condition that has been professionally inspected, cleaned, and refurbished by the manufacturer, or a manufacturer-approved vendor,” according to eBay. It also must be in new packaging with original or new accessories.

For an example of the savings, the site is offering Dell’s best-equipped 2020 XPS 15 9500 for $1,950, or $650 off the current price at Dell. Samsung’s Powerbot R7040 robot vacum is $199 rather than $399, and if you’re looking for a drill, Dewalt’s 20V combo tool kit used costs $235, while a new version runs $399 on Amazon.

eBay Certified Refurbished doesn’t have as many categories or brands as Amazon Warehouse or Amazon Renewed, but it seems to offer free shipping on most items, along with the guarantee and other perks. It’s now available to users in the US, and eBay said that applications are now open to retailers in Australia.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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The Morning After: GMC’s Hummer EV, AOC on Twitch and iPhone 12 reviews

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The 5G iPhones are almost here. This time around, Apple is offering four models in its iPhone 12 lineup and while we haven’t tested all of them (the 12 mini and the 12 Pro Max are coming later), we’ve given the other two devices our full scrutiny. And we kind of had to — the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are remarkably similar phones in so many ways.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

No, seriously, if you didn’t spot the third camera (the telephoto one that does zoom), you’d struggle to tell them apart by eyesight alone. You can take this two ways: The Pro phones don’t warrant the extra money this time around, or the iPhone 12 is a well-priced phone where you make barely any compromises. Our full review combines both phones for these very reasons. 

If you’re looking for an even cheaper iPhone, wait for that iPhone 12 mini, perhaps. And if you want the very best imaging in an iPhone, wait for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has even better cameras than the smaller Pro model. Yes, it’s easy to get confused. Oh and the iPhone 11 is still on sale, too!

— Mat

GMC’s 1000HP Hummer EV is an ‘all-electric supertruck’

After a series of teasers dating back to the Super Bowl, GMC finally revealed the new Hummer. 

The GMC HUMMER EV is driven by next-generation EV propulsion technology that enables unprecedented off-road capability, extraordinary on-road performance and an immersive driving experience.

The four-door crew cab boasts AWD, 1,000 HP and 11,500 ft/lb of torque generated by three motors run from the vehicle’s Ultium battery pack. That’s enough oomph to reportedly propel it from standing to 60MPH in just three seconds, the same timing as the Rivian R1, and an announced range of 350 miles.

Ultium batteries come in sizes as large as 200kWh — double what you’d find in a Model S and 80kWh bigger than what the massive Bollinger B1 uses — however, GMC has not confirmed what the Hummer EV is sporting. Using the higher throughput recharge options and the fact that the Hummer EV utilizes an 800V power architecture, GMC estimates the Hummer EV will fill 100 miles worth of power in just ten minutes using DC at 350kWh.

The Hummer will also have something called Crab Mode, where the front and rear wheels rotate at the same tilt angle, so the vehicle moves diagonally — you know, like a crab. According to GMC, the Hummer EV will be able to scale “18-inch verticals and [drive] through water that is more than two feet deep,” and its open-air Infinity Roof consists of removable, transparent “sky panels.”

The 2021 Hummer EV Edition 1 is slated for release in fall 2021. It will have a starting MSRP of $112,595. The model year 2022 Hummer EV is expected to retail for $99,995, the 2023 should start at $89,995 and the 2024 model (which will not include a third motor) will start at $79,995.
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AOC’s ‘Among Us’ Twitch stream peaked at over 435,000 viewers

The stream encouraged viewers to make a plan to vote on or before Election Day.

AOC's 'Among Us' Twitch stream

Last year, Donald Trump joined Twitch — before enduring a two-week ban over hateful content — and now US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has joined the service. Her first broadcast featured games of Among Us played with fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar and a few popular streamers. 

That proved to be a good strategy, as Twitch reports the concurrent viewer count peaked at 435,000. That’s the third highest count we’ve heard of, behind the Ninja/Drake stream in 2018 that topped 600k and Shroud’s return stream that crossed 500k.
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx successfully collected bits of an orbiting asteroid

After over a decade of planning, the $800 million mission achieved a major milestone.

OSIRIS-REx

NASA made history on Tuesday afternoon as its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully “tagged” the asteroid 101955 Bennu, and in doing so collected a small sample of regolith from the passing celestial body’s surface. This marks the first time a NASA mission has managed to intercept, interact with and collect samples from an asteroid.

Collecting those samples involved a never-before-tried technique dubbed the touch-and-go (TAG). Before beginning its approach, the OSIRIS unfolded and deployed its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) while pulling its solar panels back into a Y-shape so that if the TAGSAM arm did accidentally overshoot and crunch into Bennu, the rest of the spacecraft would still have the necessary power to function. 

To ensure it has a sufficiently large sample, OSIRIS will first take a picture of the collector head to confirm the presence of regolith, and then on Saturday, will extend its TAGSAM arm and spin on its axis like a centrifuge to measure the mass of rock and dust in the collection bin. If all goes well, the collection capsule will return to Earth at the Utah Test and Training Range in 2023.
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The Department of Justice sues Google over antitrust concerns

This is arguably the biggest antitrust move since the government sued Microsoft in 1998.

On Tuesday, the US government’s Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The company, which is a part of Alphabet, is accused of having an unfair monopoly over search and search-related advertising. In addition, the department disagrees with the terms around Android, the most widely used mobile operating system, that forces phone manufacturers to pre-load Google applications and set Google as the default search engine. 

Rebutting the charges, Google’s chief legal officer Kent Walker wrote that “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”
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Sony plans to optimize the PS5’s fan speed using game data

What a cool idea. Who’s a fan?

PS5 teardown

Sony will be monitoring the system and collecting data on individual games, so if a game really taxes the PS5, the fans could kick in at higher (and noisier) speeds to keep things running smoothly. These currently theoretical fan optimizations would presumably be delivered via software updates. PlayStation owners are used to firmware patches that change or add new features to their system. But an update that changes the physical performance of the hardware? That’s unusual.
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But wait, there’s more…

Windows 10’s October 2020 update is rolling out with a refreshed Start menu

Quibi chairman reportedly looked into selling its content library

Impossible Foods is working on plant-based milk that tastes like the real thing

DJI’s Pocket 2 handheld promises higher quality and mods

Photoshop’s new AI features include neural filters and sky replacement

‘Fortnite’ will host a Halloween ‘cross reality’ concert with singer J Balvin

Adobe’s tool to identify edited images comes to Photoshop

Cyberpunk 2077’s dialogue was lip-synced by AI

Novation and Aphex Twin’s limited-edition Bass Station II embraces the weird

In this article: themorningafter, newsletter, gear
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Vivo phones are coming to Europe

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Vivo has expanded its reach and announced its entry into the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. The Chinese tech manufacturer has also presented its first European line-up at an online media briefing broadcast from Dusseldorf, Germany, revealing that it’s hoping to win new fans in the region with the Vivo X51 5G. As Trusted Reviews notes, the flagship phone’s specs are almost identical to the X50 Pro with its micro gimbal camera that can keep videos stable. The main difference between the two is that the X51 5G has software modified for the European market.

Aside from the new flagship, Vivo is making its European debut with a series of mid—range smartphones: the Y70, Y20s and Y11s. It’s also releasing two Google Assistant-capable wireless earphone models in the region. First is the True Wireless Stereo Earphone Neo, which features AI noise canceling, while the other is Vivo’s Wireless Sport Earphone. The latter was designed for outdoor activities and hence boasts strong battery performance.

In its announcement, Vivo says its European launch followed extensive preparations, including research and interviews with 9,000 people across the continent. Vivo has a pretty decent share of the global smartphone market and is the sixth leading manufacturer in the world, according to Counterpoint Research. Like other Chinese OEMs venturing into Europe, though, it may see the continent as a market that promises even more growth, in part due to an opening left by Huawei after it was placed in the US entity list. The move prevents the manufacturer from offering Google’s services on its devices and from working with other US companies. Huawei used to be pretty popular in Europe until 2019, when it saw its sales drop in the region. The company was only able to prevent its numbers from slipping too much this year by re-releasing older devices, which can still use Google’s services, in the continent.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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