Newport News Implements Additional COVID-19 Measures

File image courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries

Published May 4, 2020 6:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

In response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases among its workers, top naval shipbuilder Newport News Shipyard is instituting additional controls and preventive measures. 

Beginning Monday, NNS is requiring a temperature check with an infrared thermometer for all personnel at the gate. Anyone who has a body temperature above 100 degrees or who declines to take the test will not be allowed inside. While waiting, employees must wear a mask and maintain appropriate social distancing. 

“We do feel very strongly that that final layer of defense with temperature taking at the entrance gate will provide another layer of safety for all the workers,” NNS president Jennifer Boykin told the Daily Press.

In addition, the workforce will transition to a two-shift schedule, down from three shifts per day. More day shift workers will transition to the second shift, reducing the number of people in the yard at any one time. The elimination of the third shift will give more time for cleaning work between shifts. All workers have been required to wear face masks within the yard since last week. 

35 people have tested positive at NNS so far, and 13 have recovered and returned to work. An additional number are in quarantine due to contact with known positive cases. All quarantined or isolated workers continue to receive pay, and workers who have ill family members are granted ample time off. 

Boykin says that NNS' aggressive public health and paid quarantine policies have gone a long ways towards keeping the number of cases down so far. The shipyard is the only builder of nuclear-powered carriers in the world, and as it is a critical part of the defense industrial base, the U.S. Navy has asked it to stay open and working through the pandemic.