BATH — Bath Iron Works reported Friday that five employees tested “potentially positive” for COVID-19, bringing the company’s total to 10 new cases last week. As a result, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has launched an investigation into the outbreak.

Of the 10 people who tested positive, five work at the company’s structural fabrication facility — known as the Harding Plant — in Brunswick and five work in the main shipyard in Bath, according to BIW spokesman David Hench. The people in question work on first and second shifts.

Those who tested positive at the Harding Plant last worked there between Nov. 11 and Nov. 15. Those at the Bath shipyard who tested positive were last at work between Nov. 13 and Nov. 18.

“The cases at our Structural Fabrication site appear to be connected,” Hench wrote in an email Friday. “Separately, the cases in our main shipyard appear to be connected.”

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah announced Friday that the CDC would be investigating the BIW outbreak.

Over the next two weeks, BIW, a subsidiary of aerospace and defense company General Dynamics, will partner with the CDC to offer testing to employees “in the areas affected by the recent cases to appropriately respond to the pandemic in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

“In response to this recent increase in cases, we are immediately increasing our work from home program and also spreading our employees across all three shifts to maximize our ability to avoid transmission within the shipyard,” the company wrote in an online statement posted Friday.

Hench said he didn’t yet know how many employees would be asked to quarantine because of potential exposure or whether it would significantly slow production. BIW is hard pressed to recover from production delays that were exacerbated by the pandemic and its largest union going on strike for nine weeks this summer. After the strike ended in August, Hench said the next two ships BIW is scheduled to deliver will be a year or more behind schedule.

“Any time our employees are not at work, it affects production,” Hench wrote Friday. “This is no exception. However, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Maine CDC to ensure the safety and health of our employees and return them to work only when it is safe to do so.”

Prior to this outbreak, the shipyard had avoided widespread COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic reached Maine in March. Since then, 30 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, sporadic cases have appeared more frequently this month. Last week, two BIW workers from the main shipyard in Bath tested positive for COVID-19, according to the company’s website.

COVID-19 cases in Sagadahoc County have remained low throughout the pandemic. The county has seen just 127 cases, 116 have recovered, and no deaths, according to the Maine CDC. However, the shipyard employs 6,800 workers from every county in the state, and Maine’s statewide cases have continued to rise.

On Sunday, the Maine CDC reported 236 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 10,359 cases since March. Maine had 2,392 active cases on Sunday.

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