Second SRS employee confirmed with COVID-19 as 124 are monitored
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- A second employee of the Savannah River Site has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to managers of the U.S. Department of Energy industrial complex near Aiken.
The first case was reported March 23 at the site that formerly refined materials for nuclear weapons. WRDW/WAGT confirmed Wednesday that a second case had been diagnosed.
Managers are monitoring 124 possible cases, with 52 employees symptomatic and 72 asymptomatic, spokeswoman Amy Boyette said Wednesday.
According to Boyette, 24 employees have been tested, revealing the two positive results and 14 negative results. Results are pending for eight people.
As of Tuesday, 34 employees had returned to work after quarantining, according to Boyette.
Following the initial U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, employees who were in close contact with someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms were asked to self-quarantine at home and monitor for potential symptoms.
“We are currently putting a system in place to be consistent with updated guidance from the CDC regarding how employers should handle asymptomatic employees that are around those who are symptomatic,” Boyette said.
As the CDC learns more about how the virus is spread, experts are revising recommended controls on how and when to quarantine those who may be infected, Boyette said. The updated CDC protocol continues to call for employees who are symptomatic to quarantine at home, she said. Asymptomatic employees who are informed that a fellow employee is either confirmed or symptomatic of COVID-19 should monitor for symptoms but remain at work, Boyette said.
“This is a change in posture from the initial guidance provided by CDC,” Boyette said. “We are currently putting a system in place to bring back the 72 asymptomatic employees per the new guidance. Many of those employees were already tele-working from home while on quarantine.”
Activities at the site have been limited to those necessary to ensure the safety of the public, workers and the environment as well as the continuance of critical national security missions, according to Boyette. Affected contractor employees are receiving additional guidance from their employers.
With a large percentage of SRS employees working remotely or on leave and a much-reduced number of employees on site, social distancing should provide for very infrequent close contact among staffers, Boyette said.