NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – A worker at the General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Quonset has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release.
A spokesperson said Saturday that the company had eight confirmed cases of the illness, though only one was connected to the Rhode Island plant. The company said the Quonset employee is a member of the IT department and hasn’t been on-site since March 27.
“This person had very limited contact with others,” President Kevin Graney said in a statement. “Their immediate coworkers have been contacted, and thorough cleaning of their workplace has been conducted in line with public health guidance.”
The other employees who tested positive work in either Groton, Conn., or South Carolina, according to the company.
Additionally, Graney announced on Saturday that he has also tested positive for the virus.
“Today I have some news about my own personal health,” he said. “I learned yesterday evening I have tested positive for COVID-10. While we have been talking about symptoms like fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and body aches, my own experience with symptoms was pretty subtle.”
Graney said under normal circumstances he would have taken a Tylenol and reported to work, but heeded what medical professionals have been suggesting and stayed home.
“I’ve been monitoring my temperature over the last few days and I’ve not seen a reading over 100 degrees,” he said. “My symptoms remain mild – some nasal congestion and a low grade fever.”
He said he won’t return to work until he’s cleared by a doctor.
A spokesperson for the company would not say whether Graney had visited the Quonset plant in recent weeks.
In his statement Friday, Graney said the company must continue to make every effort to improve social distancing by using remote technology, minimizing the number of people in workspaces at a given time and not gathering in groups.
The submarine manufacturer so far has decided to remain open as the disease continues to spread in Rhode Island. While many other industries have been ordered to shut down services, Gov. Gina Raimondo to date has allowed most manufacturers to continue to operate.
On Wednesday, the governor was asked about concerns being raised by Electric Boat employees who say they’re still working in close quarters with coworkers.
“Hearing this, I will now call down to Electric Boat,” she said. “That’s not OK. You shouldn’t be required by your employer to being close contact with anyone.”
She urged anyone who feels their employer is not following social distancing guidelines to contact her office or the Department of Business Regulation at 401-889-5550.
“EB is following our normal business continuity process,” spokeswoman Liz Power said in an email to Eyewitness News. “All notification and disinfection protocols remain aligned with public heath guidance.”