All contractors must test negative within 72 hours of their first day at BIW, according to the statement. This and last week’s positive cases were discovered within the contractors’ first two weeks at BIW. Kathleen O’Brien/The Times Record

BATH — Bath Iron Works, one of the state’s largest employers, announced another contracted worker tested positive for coronavirus Monday, making this the ninth case to come out of the shipyard since March.

The contractor tested positive within 14 days of their first day at BIW. Another contractor tested positive within their first 14 days at the shipyard last week.

BIW declined to release any personal information about the worker, including their name, if they’re from another state and where in the shipyard they worked. Company officials wrote the contractor was last in the shipyard on Aug. 7. They’re now quarantining and receiving medical care.

“Contact tracing is ongoing with those in contact with the individual and cleaning and disinfection of all affected areas is already underway,” the company wrote Monday.

According to a company statement, all contractors must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their first day of work. Contractors must also answer screening questions and be temperature tested every day for the first 14 days after they arrive.

“All contractors are subject to follow-up COVID-19 testing if they start at BIW before the end of their 14 day incubation period,” the company wrote Monday. “It is this follow-up testing that identified the positive case we are announcing today.”

This is the second time in as many weeks a contractor has tested positive within 14 days of their first day at BIW. A BIW employee tested positive last week as well.

BIW spokesperson David Hench declined to answer whether the contractor was from out-of-state or whether the shipyard is considering having contractors quarantine for 14 days rather than testing them while they’re working at the shipyard.

Robert Long, communications director for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said BIW’s health and safety guidelines “align with (Maine’s) current guidelines for travel from non-exempt states.”

“A recent negative test result (from a sample taken within 72 hours of arrival in Maine) can serve as an alternative to a 14-day quarantine,” said Long. “Retesting new arrivals who previously tested negative is a proactive approach to limiting potential transmission of the virus.”

Long did not comment on whether BIW should alter its testing and quarantine practices to protect its workers.

In early June, the company announced it hired an unknown number of additional contractors to supplement its workforce while Local S6 of the Machinists Union, the shipyard’s largest union, remains on strike until union members vote on a new proposed contract the union and company settled on last week.

It’s unclear how many contractors the shipyard hired before the strike began.

The first case at the shipyard was reported in late March. Another case followed in early April. Four more cases were reported throughout June and the most recent two cases were announced last week. The first three workers who tested positive have recovered and returned to work, according to a statement from the company. The status of the last three is unknown.

In March and April, as the number of cases in Maine steadily rose, union officials and Maine lawmakers called on the company to close to prevent the virus from spreading within the shipyard, which employs 6,800 people from every county in the state.

The shipyard stayed open, but said company facilities are cleaned “continuously,” according to an Aug. 4 statement from the company.

The shipyard continues to “strongly encourage everyone to continue to be vigilant in their own conduct and actively care for themselves and each other.”

“All salaried employees are required to properly wear a face covering when within six feet of another person or whenever six feet of social distancing will be difficult to maintain while working in or moving around any BIW facility,” the company wrote in a statement Monday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 4,050 cases since mid-March. Of those, 3,560 people have recovered and have 126 died.


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