Elon Musk, CEO of Palo Alto-based electric automaker Tesla, vented on social media Saturday about Alameda County public health orders that prevent the company's Fremont plant from resuming production. He threatened to file a lawsuit and move operations to another state.
"Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA," Musk posted on Twitter.
"Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately."
Musk targeted Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan, who maintained Friday that production at the Tesla plant could not yet resume.
"Tesla knows far more about what needs to be done to be safe through our Tesla China factory experience than an (unelected) interim junior official in Alameda County," Musk tweeted.
The county's Public Health Department issued a statement Saturday afternoon, saying that it had been working closely with Tesla in a "collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla's factory."
Although the department didn't announce lifting restrictions, the statement said, "We look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon."
In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine wrote: "I would be really sad and disappointed if @Tesla left @cityofpaloalto, and stand ready to help. I truly appreciate having a cutting edge company based here, employing people, paying taxes, and helping to solve the climate crisis. Happy to help @elonmusk."
Musk tweeted back, "Much appreciated, Mayor Fine!"
Fine later followed up: "Getting criticism from different quarters for tweeting this. Let me be clear: as Mayor, I'm committed to making my hometown as strong as it can be. I am pro housing pro business pro people pro schools pro transit pro environment, and most of all, pro Palo Alto. I love this place."
Tesla employs 10,000 people in Santa Clara County, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
On Monday, Tesla resumed production at the Fremont plant in defiance of the Alameda County health order, Musk said in a tweet. "I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me," he wrote.
New COVID-19 cases, deaths
California entered Stage 2 of reopening the economy on Friday by allowing certain types of businesses to reopen under new guidelines, but no changes are coming soon to stay-at-home orders for the Peninsula, where COVID-19 extended its reach this past week.
As of Sunday, Santa Clara County reported 2,339 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 95 of which are hospitalized, and 129 deaths caused by the disease.
San Mateo County's data dashboard shows 1,464 COVID-19 cases and 56 deaths as of Sunday. Of the total cases, 58 with COVID-19 or suspected to have the disease are hospitalized as of Saturday.
The Peninsula saw some signs of normalcy over the past week through new shelter-at-home orders that went into effect on Monday, May 4 and peeled back a few restrictions. Days later, the state allowed businesses in the retail, manufacturing and logistics sectors to reopen under specific conditions, such as stores offering curbside pickup.
Bay Area health officers in seven jurisdictions, including Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, commended the state's move in a joint statement, but stressed that their own stay-at-home orders won't be modified as they expect COVID-19 outbreaks to continue.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.