COVID-19 Updates


April 28, 2020

This information comes from Although targeted toward visitors, it really applies to all of us.


To the customers, suppliers, contractors, collaborators and other visitors of General Atomics and its affiliates:

We understand the growing concern as the scope of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to increase. The health, safety and well-being of our community on or off-campus are our top priorities.

All of us are responsible for taking preventative measures to minimize the risks and potential spread of COVID-19.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or you believe that you have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have recently visited any of our facilities, please immediately notify General Atomics’ HR Department at 1-858-455-3075.

We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and urge everyone to take necessary precautions for health and safety purposes. Among the process and procedures we have implemented:

Travel/Meetings: All non-essential business travel and in-person meetings have been suspended by General Atomics. Use of teleconference and/or web-based meetings is recommended.

GA Facility Visitors: All visitors of General Atomics may be verbally pre-screened upon arrival for symptoms of COVID-19. At certain General Atomics facilities, all individuals will be subject to a temperature screen. Those individuals who have a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) will not be permitted access. Any individual who suspects he/she is ill should not visit a General Atomics facility, especially if the individual is experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, chills, repeated shaking with chills, sore throat, and/or new loss of taste or smell.

Facial Coverings: All visitors must wear a facial covering while on a General Atomics facility.

On-site Suppliers/Collaborators: All Suppliers/Collaborators’ are to follow his/her respective General Atomics host’s instructions regarding reporting to work at a General Atomics facility. If the host instructs the individual to report to a General Atomics facility, and such instruction does not conflict with direction from the individual’s employer, the individual must take necessary precautions when working on-site to protect the health and well-being of the individual and others. Any suspicion of illness should be taken seriously, and the individual must not report to work at a General Atomics facility if the individual is experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, chills, repeated shaking with chills, sore throat, and/or new loss of taste or smell.

Thank you for your cooperation during this time.

April 20, 2020

FROM: DIII-D Program Director
TO: DIII-D Program
Subject: Update on Machine Status and Plans going forward
Date: April 19, 2020

I wanted to provide a short update on machine status and our plans for Experimental Operations in FY20. Since my last update on April 3rd, the Operations Team has continued to make progress on testing DIII-D systems needed for the restart of the experimental program.

The power systems are fully tested and ready, basic diagnostics have been tested and are ready for operations (Thomson, CO2, SPRED, and magnetics), we have successfully run ohmic plasmas, and the cryo system has been restarted and is making liquid He again. Progress on the Helicon ex-vessel system is continuing with the target of being ready to inject power into the new antenna by mid-summer. The next step in machine readiness is to begin NB conditioning and plasma cleaning operation with NB injection. This work has been done under the challenging protocols of maintaining social distancing and maximizing the use of remote operation.

Since it is likely that any near-term operation of DIII-D during this fiscal year would require a continuation of these basic protocols, we have been evaluating which experiments can be performed successfully and effectively with diagnostic systems and personnel arrangements that match these protocols. However, no date has been established for the restart of experimental operations.

Without knowing exactly what new protocols will be established and when collaborating research teams will be returning to work at the DIII-D site, our goal is to bring the facility to the point of operational readiness needed to carry out the experimental program consistent with relevant protocols at that time. A range of scenarios and options are being explored and discussed with DOE and the DIII-D Executive Committee.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those in the DIII-D program that have been working hard in this challenging environment to prepare DIII-D for a rapid return to research operation when conditions permit.

Dave Hill

April 5, 2020

To: DIII-D Team

The DIII-D operations group has completed a number of tasks over the past week enabling successful operation of ohmic discharges on Thursday and Friday. Work also continued on the cryo system recovery and many other tasks.

In parallel, the science team carried out an analysis to identify experiments that can be carried out with a reduced set of diagnostics within present COVID-19 guidelines. We will now be examining and developing capabilities and protocols for carrying out these experiments and operating diagnostics moving forward.

We are also reviewing all on-site project and operations-related activities and preparing updated protocols for safe execution of these activities consistent with the latest guidelines.

Naturally, these plans will be strongly dependent on the evolving COVID-19 situation in San Diego, in California, and across the nation; no official timeline for resumption of experimental operation has been adopted nor expected at this time.

Finally, I would like to remind all DIII-D participants to follow their employer's instructions, policies, and guidance regarding COVID-19 actions and recommendations as the situation evolves.

Up-to-date GA/DIII-D site status information may be found at

This message is also posted at:

Dave Hill

Director, DIII-D National Fusion Program

March 27, 2020

As announced late last week, General Atomics and the DIII-D facility are remaining open. The purpose of this memo is to chart the course for the DIII-D program as we navigate the uncertain waters associated with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As always, our highest priority goals focus on maintaining a safe work environment for all staff and enabling the DIII-D team to deliver excellent science supporting fusion energy research. We will not operate the facility if we cannot meet these goals, and we will pursue other tasks while we remain open. Given present uncertainties, we cannot target a fixed number of weeks of operation this year, nor do we have confidence in a definitive date for restart of the research program. What we can do is work safely and purposely to move the program forward as best possible.

This week we have been able to operate the machine for testing power systems and performing magnetic calibrations. Maintaining social distancing has required significant changes to our normal mode of operation, as is evident from a nearly empty control room with no physics operators and no diagnostic personnel. As we progress into Tokamak operations for plasma cleaning and diagnostic calibrations, the challenges of operation with much of the diagnostic and research staff working either off-site or in their offices will increase significantly as we continue moving into our research program.

Over the next few days we will be working with the Operations and Science teams to examine which diagnostic systems can be run remotely or with minimal on-site staff support using available GA personnel, starting with the information provided in the reports from the Extended Operations Working Groups. The diagnostic group leads will be queried to determine if their systems can be run within the new constraints and if not, what can be done to get them into that state. Based on this analysis, a list of system enhancements to enable remote operation and reduce needs for on-site staff support will be pursued. Given the large number of systems and their complexity, it will not be feasible to provide resources to all systems to achieve this goal. Therefore, our resources will be focused on a reduced set of diagnostic systems that will be identified as critical to operating the device and providing high quality research.

In parallel with this effort by the diagnostic teams, we will be asking our research teams to examine which experiments can be successfully completed with expected diagnostics and limited on-site staff. We will only be executing experiments that can productively make use of the experimental time, given the constraints and available diagnostics, while other experiments will be postponed until adequate diagnostic coverage is available.

The reality of this decision is that the startup duration will be longer than typical, and the restart of the research program will be delayed as we implement the enhancements needed for the key diagnostic systems. In addition, many of the experiments previously scheduled for this year will need to be deferred.

The DIII-D program has weathered difficult challenges in the past and with your participation in this effort, we are certain that we can emerge from this with a stronger program and a continued reputation for safe operation, innovation, and high-quality physics.

Dave Hill
Director, DIII-D National Fusion Program

March 26, 2020

To: DIII-D Team

Limited testing and calibration of magnetic probes and power supply is underway at the facility and will conclude on Friday. Work plans and procedures for restoring operation of the liquid helium cryoplant consistent with significantly reduced on-site staff have been developed.

In parallel, the DIII-D operations group is developing plans for different scenarios and timelines for the eventual safe return to operational status when conditions allow. Naturally, these plans will be strongly dependent on the evolving COVID-19 situation in San Diego, in California, and across the nation; no official timeline has been adopted.

Up-to-date GA/DIII-D site status information may be found at

This message is also posted at:

Dave Hill

March 23, 2020

Dear DIII-D Community

On Thursday evening, March 19th, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all individuals in California to stay at home except as needed. Following Newsom’s order, General Atomics determined that the company as a whole can maintain continuity of operation as a part of the federal critical infrastructure sectors ( This allows those who need to work to do so. The company said that all employees who can effectively perform work from home should do so, and that the company will remain open to continue business operations. We are not requiring any DIII-D staff to come to work if they choose to stay at home. Indeed, a number of collaborating institutions (e.g. PPPL and LLNL) have explicitly told all employees to remain at home and provided means for them to be paid while doing so.

As you might expect for the DIII-D Facility Operations Group, GA has a number of employees who cannot work from home, and have expressed a desire to come to work if possible, for various reasons. The testing and calibration tasks for DIII-D that we have identified for this week can be accomplished safely with staff who plan to come to work. We are taking the social isolation measures seriously and have incorporated them into carrying out the planned activities; the control room and other work areas have been and will continue to be largely empty. We will be assessing the situation throughout each day and will adjust plans as needed to maintain the health and safety of our employees. Work on many other tasks has been stopped or curtailed significantly. Resumption of research operations is on hold; plans for the following weeks are being developed and will certainly continue evolving.

Dave Hill
Director, DIII-D National Fusion Community

March 21, 2020

To: DIII-D Program Participants on site at General Atomics

General Atomics is continuing its business operations; all buildings at Torrey Pines and at the DIII-D facility remain open. If you can effectively perform your work from home, you should do so, consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Stay at Home Order.

On Friday, work on the tokamak was paused to enable the Operations Group to evaluate how best to proceed towards returning DIII-D to operational status once the full scientific and technical team returns to work. In the interim, the group developed plans for safely testing selected power systems next week with minimal staff on site, starting on Tuesday. Plans for work at the facility beyond that are yet to be determined.

I want to remind all DIII-D participants to follow their employer's policies, guidance, and instructions regarding the Governor’s Executive order and other COVID-19 recommendations and actions.

Up-to-date site status information may be found at