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Bath Iron Works Employee Contracts Coronavirus, Parent Company Says

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Maine Public/file
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The stern section of Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002) being moved into position on the Land Level Transfer Facility at Bath Iron Works, Sept. 9, 2017.

The parent company of Bath Iron Works has announced that an employee at the shipyard has contracted COVID-19.In a statement on its website, General Dynamics says that it was informed on Monday that an employee who had last been at work on March 13 had contracted the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The company says that it is "notifying those employees who were in close contact with the individual" and will have them self-quarantine for two weeks after their last contact. The company says it's also working with the Maine CDC.

In a letter to staff, BIW President Dirk Lesko says that he appreciates “the efforts of so many BIW employees to come to work under such trying circumstances” and that the shipyard remains open “because the President of the United States and the United States Navy has mandated that we do so – that the work we do is so essential to the defense of our nation that we must not shut down.”

Lesko adds that the employee who tested positive hasn’t been work in 10 days, and the company has worked with the Maine CDC “to take the necessary cleaning and sanitizing actions to reduce transmission potential.”

Leadership with Union Local 6 says the incident shows that the shipyard needs to be closed. In an online statement, the union says the company should shut down the yard and provide paid leave for workers in order to protect the health of employees and their families.

Last week, General Dynamics said that, to limit exposure to the virus, employees could use any previously accrued paid time over the next few weeks — and if none remained, the company would offer up to two weeks of unpaid leave. Union leaders pushed back, instead calling on General Dynamics to close its shipyard to protect public health and also provide paid leave for staff.