Three COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Amidst Strike at Bath Iron Works
Three union workers at Bath Iron Works have tested positive for COVID-19, the Maine-based shipbuilder confirmed Monday.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control director Dr. Nirav Shah, the three individuals all carpooled together and were last within the shipyard complex on June 18 or 19. The union that represents most of BIW's workforce, IAW Local S6, has since gone on strike, and the three individuals spent time on the picket line.
As a result of the cases, BIW advised that some workers may have been exposed and should seek testing for COVID-19. Those potentially exposed include workers who were aboard the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer DDG 120 in the vessel's combat information center (CIC) compartment or were involved in rallies in the shipyard's Main Yard between June 15 and 19; and those who were at the union's Main Yard picket line between June 22 and 24.
The cluster of three related cases qualifies as an outbreak under CDC definitions, BIW said.
"We urge our employees to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to our carpooling and van pool policies and to do temperature checks before coming into work. If you have COVID-19-related symptoms, please stay home," the yard said in a statement.
BIW and the Maine CDC are carrying out a joint contact-tracing effort to find and test individuals who may have been exposed. According to Dr. Shah, an initial review identified 53 individuals for follow-up.
The news comes shortly before the expiration date for employer-provided health insurance for Local S6's workers. The strikers have the option of paying for continuation of previous BIW health care benefits; purchasing health insurance on the open market; declaring loss of employment to qualify for a special enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act marketplace; finding alternate employment with employer-provided health insurance benefits; or going without insurance. The union's strike allowance is set at $150 per week.