An Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) employee working at the company’s Houston-area campus has been confirmed to have contracted Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, just as the company is reopening the property, according to a May 22 internal memo.

A spokesman for the Irving, Texas-based company confirmed to the Houston Business Journal that an Exxon employee had tested positive for Covid-19.

In an email with the subject line, “Houston campus confirmed Covid-19 case,” Jon Gibbs, who leads Exxon’s Americas Emergency Support Group, said the affected employee “developed mild symptoms at the workplace” and went home shortly thereafter. The email was sent to the company’s 13,000 local employees.

While at home, the employee contacted medical professionals, the memo states. The employee was later diagnosed with Covid-19.

Gibbs said in the memo that the employee was wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing guidelines at the time they developed symptoms of Covid-19.

The employee’s workstation and common areas that might have been used were thoroughly cleaned, Gibbs said.

“In this case, there were no close contacts identified; had there been, those people would have been asked to leave the workplace,” Gibbs said. “While our hope is no other colleagues become unwell, we will continue to follow these careful procedures in the event of another suspected case.”

The confirmed case of Covid-19 comes just days after the company began bringing employees back to Exxon’s 385-acre Houston-area campus, which is located at 22777 Springwoods Village Parkway in the Springwoods Village master-planned community.

Sources close to Exxon said the campus reopened to employees this week, though only 25% were allowed on-site at any given time.

The company plans to increase capacity to 50% in the coming weeks, the sources said.

The Exxon spokesman confirmed the company has implemented a phased approach to bringing personnel back to the campus. He said that phased approach will remain consistent and in compliance with all government orders and directives.

“As a matter of practice we do not release information on details of individual staffing arrangements, but we will make adjustments if and when they are needed,” the spokesman said.

The company has adopted additional precautionary measures that have been taken to “prevent further spread of the virus among our workforce,” the spokesman said. Those measures include reducing workforce density, adjusting building layouts, modifying operating practices, enhancing cleaning procedures and providing the necessary supplies to maintain good personal hygiene.

Exxon is the Houston area’s largest energy employer, according to HBJ research.

In April, more than one employee at Exxon’s Baytown facility tested positive for Covid-19, media outlets including Reuters and The Baytown Sun reported at the time. However, Exxon is not the only local energy company that has had to respond to a case of Covid-19 on property it owns.

In March, Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. confirmed it had taken steps to respond to potential contamination at its downtown Houston building after one of its employee tested positive for Covid-19.

Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI) owns the 33-story Kinder Morgan Building at 1001 Louisiana St., and the employee worked in the company’s headquarters for up to a week before becoming aware of the diagnosis.

By Jeff Jeffrey – Reporter

Courtesy of the Houston Business Journal

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