Vaccinated or not, Newport News Shipbuilding will require employees to wear masks indoors

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Starting Monday, all personnel at Newport News Shipbuilding will be required to wear masks while indoors or in covered facilities.

The shipyard made the announcement Thursday in response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released earlier this week. Health officials say wearing masks will help protect from further spreading the dangerous coronavirus Delta variant.

The mandate at the shipyard goes into effect Monday, Aug. 2.

“Confirmed cases at Newport News Shipbuilding have also risen, and while numbers are below levels earlier in the pandemic, this trend is concerning,” shipyard President Jennifer Boykin wrote in the update Thursday.

The shipyard, which is a Department of Defense contractor and builds and maintains some Navy ships, said the Navy is also implementing mask requirements for its facilities.

On Wednesday, the DoD announced that service members, federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors will need to wear masks while indoors at DoD-controlled facilities, regardless of their vaccination status.

The DoD mandate is for facilities that are in areas with high or substantial risk for transmission — which applies to almost the entire Hampton Roads region.

The shipyard said masks are required on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) immediately. They’re required starting July 30 on the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and submarines USS Boise (SSN 764), USS Helena (SSN 725) and USS Columbus (SSN 762).

Keith Wyatt, a rigger at Newport News Shipbuilding, told WAVY on Friday he is not looking forward to wearing a mask at work again.

“So I’m not upset. I don’t like it, but if that’s what we have to do, that’s what we have to do,” he said.

Wyatt is immunized but a lot of his co-workers are not. As of Thursday, only about 52% of shipyard workers have reported being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The shipyard also reminded its employees to self-report their vaccination status by logging into their UPoint account from www.hiibenefits.com.

For a list of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 at Newport News Shipbuilding, click here.

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