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Navy confirms civilian employee tests positive for coronavirus at Pearl Harbor shipyard

  • COURTESY U.S. NAVY 
                                Dry Dock 1 at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is flooded during the undocking of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS City of Corpus Christi in 2019.

    COURTESY U.S. NAVY

    Dry Dock 1 at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is flooded during the undocking of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS City of Corpus Christi in 2019.

The Navy today confirmed the first — and so far only — case of COVID-19 among the Department of Defense civilian workforce at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the state’s largest industrial employer.

The positive case was recorded on March 29.

“The employee is currently restricted to their residence, receiving supportive and medical care in accordance with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state and local guidelines,” the Navy said.

Health professionals are conducting a contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been in close contact and possibly exposed.

More than 6,400 mainly civilians work at the shipyard, with about 500 of that total military members.

Although the Pentagon on March 30 said military COVID-19 cases no longer would be reported at the local level, and instead would be announced in service-wide totals, each service has modified the policy to provide some basic information at individual command levels that usually show a very low number.

As a result, since the March 30 prohibition, some commands have reported first cases of COVID-19, but not necessarily cases that have followed that.

The shipyard previously said the workforce is considered mission essential “due to our critical national security mission to fix ships and submarines for our Navy.”

“To balance both the national security mission and to protect our workforce, we have implemented a layered approach of safety measures” including social distancing, monitoring employee health and restricting travel, the shipyard said.

On March 26, to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance stating that those ages 65 and older are an at-risk population, the Navy issued a directive to all four public shipyards, including Pearl Harbor, to take steps to better protect those workers.

“Employees who are age 65 and older, or who have a CDC-defined medical condition, have been granted paid administrative leave,” the shipyard said.

For operational security reasons, the shipyard said it does not comment on the number of shipyard employees on leave.

The shipyard also said it implemented social distancing “to the maximum extent possible.”

“To increase space for social distancing, we are relocating work that is usually done on a ship, but can be reasonably shifted off the ship. Supervisors are also reassigning employees to other shifts to reduce the amount of workers on the day shift,” the yard said.

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