News Release

Friday, March 20, 2020

NIH shifts non-mission-critical laboratory operations to minimal maintenance phase

To further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and enhance the safety of staff, the National Institutes of Health is shifting all non-mission-critical laboratory operations to a maintenance phase. Beginning on Monday, March 23, only mission-critical functions within NIH research laboratories will be supported. Mission-critical functions include the following: care of research participants in NIH clinical protocols that are non-elective, research directly on COVID-19, urgent public health research recommended by NIH scientific leadership, work involving significant research investments that could be lost if not continued, and protection of life, property and resources, including the care of research animals. This follows a March 13 guidance to all eligible NIH staff to telework to the maximum extent possible.

NIH will strictly limit the presence of staff in laboratories supporting non-critical functions to focus on maintenance. All research functions suitable for remote work, such as data analysis, literature reviews, or drafting and review of manuscripts, is expected to be performed remotely. NIH believes these steps are necessary to further mitigate risk and ensure the safety of all NIH staff.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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