Construction sites implementing changes to protect workers after spike in COVID-19 cases

Construction sites implementing changes to protect workers after spike in COVID-19 cases

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Health officials said there’s a spike in coronavirus cases among construction workers in Mecklenburg County.

That increase in cases is causing a lot of changes for employees, before they even touch the equipment they work with.

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“We’ve changed our own protocol probably half a dozen times since this started,” said Rich Cerretti, with JE Dunn Construction.

JE Dunn started screening its employees for COVID-19 more than a month ago using short surveys and temperature checks.

At its largest construction site of about 600 workers in south Charlotte, they screen workers every day ... for a total of more than 23,000 screenings.

If someone shows symptoms, the are tested along with anyone they came into contact with.

So far, 40 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Even with screenings in place, including the questionnaire employees fill out before they clock in, the biggest challenge is that the majority of people who test positive are asymptomatic.

“It was a big surprise to us, the number of non-symptomatic positive cases we’ve had,” Cerretti said.

Through contact tracing, Cerretti said the company identified 70% of people who didn’t show signs of sickness. That means they could have passed the screening and continued to work.

“The contact tracing has been a huge part and I can’t give enough credit to Mecklenburg County public health and our hospital systems. The testing has been fantastic,” Cerretti said.

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The county said it wants to work with construction companies, like Cerretti’s, to target messages for employees.

The CDC is also recommending construction workers wear face coverings on the job and don’t share equipment.

That’s something JE Dunn is already doing and Cerretti is prepared for even more guidance as the situation continues to evolve.

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