NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — COVID-19 cases at Newport News Shipbuilding saw a huge increase this past week as numbers in Hampton Roads rise.
The shipyard reported 83 cases of COVID-19 in the last six days. Tuesday, July 14, had the highest daily increase with 18 shipyard employees reported testing positive for the virus.
According to the Newport News Shipbuilding website, the majority of employees who tested positive for COVID-19 this past week worked the first shift and last reported to the shipyard earlier this month.
In a statement posted on social media Friday afternoon, Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said her promise to communicate regularly and to be transparent has not changed.
“In fact, I believe it’s needed now more than ever,” said Boykin.
As far as shipyard employee deaths due to COVID-19, Boykin chose not to disclose information citing privacy concerns.
“Out of respect for an individual’s privacy and the privacy of their family, as a policy, we do not confirm the death of an employee, with the exception of a workplace accident. We believe that decision belongs to the family.”
Boykin also confirmed that employees who are exposed to COVID-19 at NNS and advised to quarantine are paid for the quarantine period. In most cases, employees are also paid for exposures that occur outside the shipyard, provided they submit medical documentation confirming their quarantine period.
At the moment, NNS officials are considering eliminating the large smoking areas and creating smaller areas for a single person to help employees follow social distancing guidelines. At least two smoking areas in the shipyard have been shut down as a result of people not following social distancing rules.
The rise of COVID-19 cases at the shipyard comes as Hampton Roads reports high numbers in the area. On Sunday, more than half of the additional cases reported statewide came from Hampton Roads with 122 coming from the City of Newport News alone.
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