Coronavirus Outbreak (copy) (copy) (copy) (copy)

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

A Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employee recently died because of the novel coronavirus, according to a memo sent to Savannah River Site workers Monday.

The message, from SRNS President and CEO Stuart MacVean, disclosed the COVID-19-related death and sparingly described the circumstances.

The employee became ill last week, according to the message, and died soon after.

MacVean described the "loss" of a coworker as a somber reminder that "we are truly in this together." The president, in a March dispatch to employees, described the coronavirus pandemic as "unprecedented."

Sixty-two cumulative cases of COVID-19 had been logged at the Savannah River Site – a nuclear-waste-and-weapons complex south of Aiken and New Ellenton – as of July 1. Twenty-two cases were active at the time.

Approximately 11,000 people work at the site; the coronavirus infections there represent a fraction of the overall workforce.

More than 510 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Aiken County. More than 46,000 cases have been logged in South Carolina.

As of late last month, face masks are required in a majority of Savannah River Site operations, a reaction to the surging number of COVID-19 cases statewide.

Colin Demarest covers the SRS, DOE, its NNSA and government, in general. Support his crucial reporting and local journalism, in general, by subscribing. Follow Colin on Twitter: @demarest_colin.