Email Print Share


Image credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

Coronavirus Information

NSF encourages you to take extra precautions to protect yourselves and your families against COVID-19. Visitors are required to self-screen and not enter the building if they have symptoms or have COVID-19. If the Community Level in Alexandria is HIGH, all individuals are required to wear high-quality masks in the NSF building. If you are an NSF employee looking for guidance, please visit InsideNSF. If you are a member of the public, please visit

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the research community has faced unprecedented challenges that have tested the people and infrastructure that make up the U.S. scientific research enterprise. Despite these difficulties, you have continued doing the scientific work that creates opportunities, spurs innovation, and improves quality of life for individuals, families and communities across the U.S. The U.S. National Science Foundation plays a unique role in supporting the undergraduate, graduate students, postdocs, and early career faculty who represent the future of science, engineering, and STEM Education in the U.S. This support will remain a top priority for NSF as we seek to recover from the pandemic. This includes support for individuals as well as institutions that serve members of historically underrepresented groups. NSF continues to offer opportunities that can help bolster early-career researchers, students and others in the scientific enterprise who may be in a difficult situation due to the pandemic. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your NSF program manager should you be in need of assistance.

Federal Guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Antarctic COVID Containment Update

March 24, 2023 – As the Antarctic season transitions to winter operations, there are currently zero new COVID cases and zero known active cases at McMurdo and South Pole stations. In preparation for the 2023-24 research season, the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) will undertake a multi-step process to establish protocols to manage the continuing risks presented by COVID-19 to deployers. Additional information regarding the protocol process is available at USAP COVID-19 Protocol Review Process | NSF - National Science Foundation.

February 2, 2023 – As a result of the special measures to contain the outbreak of COVID on Antarctica, McMurdo has zero new cases in the past 24 hours. There are six known active cases (a case is considered active for 10 days post-identification). The South Pole station had zero new cases identified in the past 24 hours, with zero known active cases.

The McMurdo mask mandate has been lifted because the station caseload is below 1% of the population of 953. However, as of January 1, all new arrivals are required to mask for their first five days on station.

January 6, 2023 – Following the implementation of special measures to contain the outbreak of COVID on Antarctica in November, the number of new infections has decreased to less than one percent of the population of 1,000. As McMurdo prepares for the next round of arrivals, there are five known active cases of COVID. South Pole has eight known active cases. (A case is considered active for ten days post-identification.) There have been no new cases in the last 72 hours.

Regular flights will continue in January to meet operational and science needs. As the population is expected to increase at this point in the Antarctic season, NSF continues to be concerned about, and to mitigate, COVID infections. In addition to the measures introduced in November, PCR testing will be part of the protocol for incoming cohorts.

November 23, 2022 – McMurdo station continues to see a reduction in positive cases. Personnel who were already in Christchurch awaiting deployment arrived safely on station 20 November.

The safety and well-being of our researchers and staff remains NSF's top priority. NSF continues modified entry plans to Antarctica and is closely monitoring the number of positive cases. The assessment of impacts to deployed research projects is ongoing.

November 17, 2022 – Following the two-week pause on travel, McMurdo station has had zero (0) new cases identified in the last four days. There are 29 total active cases, including those who have tested positive in the last 10 days. As a result of the decrease in positivity rates, the U.S. National Science Foundation will resume modified entry plans to Antarctica. Beginning no sooner than Saturday, November 19, those who were already in Christchurch awaiting deployment when the pause was implemented will transit to McMurdo station after two negative Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). Those bound for South Pole or deep field camps will enter the 5-day isolation period and test again before proceeding to their destination from McMurdo station.

The safety and well-being of our researchers and staff continues to be NSF's top priority. Unfortunately, the steps needed to protect those already on the ice, and future arrivals will impact deployed research projects in Antarctica.

During the coming weeks, NSF will be adjusting deployment plans for the season and will continue to monitor the number of positive cases so we can respond accordingly.

November 7, 2022 – In NSF's ongoing efforts to contain the breakout of Covid cases in Antarctica, the following changes are being implemented upon arrival on station.

  • Five days in isolation are required before transiting to South Pole, Deep Field, and a negative test.
  • Those testing positive will be required to isolate for five days then mask an additional five days and will return to work after two negative tests.

Currently, of the total population of 993 in McMurdo Station, we have 64 active cases and there have been 98 positive tests since the beginning of October. Most have mild symptoms and are isolating in their rooms.

NSF will continue to provide updates as new information is available.

November 5, 2022 – Consistent with the U.S. National Science Foundation's commitment to balance research and operational needs while containing the spread of Covid cases in Antarctica, NSF is implementing a pause* on all travel to the continent for the next two weeks, effective immediately, while we reassess the situation.

At the current rate of infection of 10% of the deployed population, our expert epidemiologist highly recommends KN-95 masks be worn at all times and NSF will ensure these are available to all residents at McMurdo.

*The pause does not apply to essential travel required for health and safety reasons.

NSF Plan for Workplace Safety

NSF Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on NSF Guidance

Research on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Factsheets (COVID-19)

Blog Posts (COVID-19)