Covid-19 Outbreaks in the Construction Industry

Last week Construction Dive, a publication focused on the construction industry, rounded up a number of construction sites across the country that have experienced Covid-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began. As Construction Dive notes, there is no national body tracking outbreaks by industry, but local news sources have kept an eye on their communities, including construction workplaces.

In April, according to Construction Dive, there were at least two Covid-19 clusters centered in a construction site at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. The clusters affected seven workers, and the construction site “was shut down for disinfecting after each outbreak.”

In May, 38 construction workers tested positive for Covid-19 at an apartment tower construction site in Charlotte, North Carolina. The site’s general contractor, Hoar Construction, responded by completing “a deep cleaning and sterilization of the site and worked with a third-party company to beef up screening of workers.” Another outbreak at a Denver International Airport construction site affected 14 workers from an “insulation company,” resulting in the closure of the site for cleaning and disinfecting, as well as an “educational orientation program” for employees when they returned. That same month, there were 26 cases at a Maine veterans’ home construction site where several subcontractors “were from New Hampshire and other states” with higher infection levels than Maine.

Also in May, “up to 31 construction workers building the $2 billion NFL stadium in Las Vegas tested positive,” with the firms Mortenson and McCarthy stating that part of the outbreak “was localized to electricians working on site.” Meanwhile in Nashville, there were “more than 70 cases found among workers and subcontractors” at a private school, whose contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, responded by closing the site for five days for deep cleaning.

In June, according to Construction Dive, an outbreak at an Appalachian State University site in Boone, North Carolina affected at least 36 subcontractors. In Santa Clara, California, there were positive cases at 13 projects: “at least construction workers at a Mountain View development site tested positive with as many as 30 total workers exposed,” while workers at 11 other projects in San Jose and Milpitas were infected. In Louisiana, 32 workers at a project on New Orleans’ Mercedez-Benz Superdome tested positive and were sent home by Broadmoor LLC. At the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, “a continuous stream of positive coronavirus tests among the project’s 3,000 daily workers sent 18 workers home by the second week of June.”

In July, Colorado officials identified outbreaks at construction sites in Denver, Kit Carson, and Fort Collins, with dozens of workers affected. In Salt Lake City, 75 workers at a Salt Lake City airport construction site were infected with Covid-19, and 116 workers at a resort project in Big Sky, Montana tested positive. In August, 35 construction workers at a Shell Chemicals construction site tested positive. In Oregon last month, “A pre-construction meeting for a healthcare project held indoors by Andersen Construction led to an outbreak among 13 employees and three close contacts,” and six workers at an Astoria Middle School construction site were infected.

This month, Shell Chemicals experienced another outbreak, with 39 workers affected in a Beaver County, Pennsylvania construction site. In Larimer County, Colorado, 12 workers at five construction companies tested positive, with a total of 10 companies reporting 66 cases in the county, per Construction Dive.

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