NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Two shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding have tested positive for COVID-19, according to shipyard President Jennifer Boykin.
Boykin posted the announcement about the first case on Facebook Monday afternoon. She then posted news of the second case around 9 p.m. Monday.
The first person self-reported the positive test to the shipyard Monday after being diagnosed over the weekend.
The second person also reported it to the shipyard afternoon getting confirmation from his doctor.
Boykin told 10 On Your Side Tuesday she’s thankful that the two employees who’ve tested positively alerted them as soon as possible. She said the shipyard knew this was not an “if” but “when” scenario.
“Because the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Hampton Roads has grown to more than 250, we fully expect to have more positive cases at NNS over the next several months, and we have been planning accordingly. My commitment to you is that as we learn of new cases, our medical team will directly communicate with our employees who may have been put at risk, and we will assess the need for additional cleaning,” Boykin wrote on Facebook.
An Ingalls shipbuilder working in Pascagoula also has tested positive, Boykin said.
Newport News Shipbuilding will not be releasing the name of the first employee due to privacy laws, but Boykin released some other information:
• “The individual works in Building 600, on the second floor.
• The individual has not been on company property since March 16.
• The individual is actively recovering and remains in quarantine.
• Our leadership team has met with the employees who work near the individual or who came into close contact with the individual. Those employees are being advised to call our clinic for additional guidance.
• We have been actively cleaning the entire shipyard, including Building 600. We are increasing the frequency of sanitizing high-touch points throughout Building 600 with additional emphasis on wiping down bathrooms, railings, vending machines and elevators in immediate proximity to the employee’s workspace. The increased frequency will continue for a minimum of seven days. We will also ensure additional cleaning supplies are available in the building.
• We will be restricting the communal eating areas in Building 600.”
Boykin said the shipyard is asking its employees to report positive tests for COVID-19 directly to their supervisor immediately.
“The sooner we learn of a diagnosis, the greater our ability to keep our fellow shipbuilders as safe as possible. This is exactly what our first two confirmed cases did. These individuals are heroes in my eyes, and we all owe them our respect and gratitude,” Boykin wrote.
Boykin also said the shipyard is extending liberal leave for NNS employees through the end of April. Employees assigned to offsite locations should follow all health and reporting protocols established by that location.
“That being said, when NNS offers liberal leave, it applies to all NNS employees working offsite, no matter what location they are working,” Boykin wrote.
A summary of all current leave time options and alternate work arrangements options are available on the Newport News Shipbuilding website.
“These are difficult times, and we all have tough choices to make. We will continue to do our best to offer you flexibility and options, and I will continue to be open and transparent as we learn more and make additional decisions. I encourage you to do what is best for you and your family, knowing that you will have a job to come back to on the other side of this pandemic,” she said.
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