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Post-holiday surge in cases at Electric Boat mirrors uptick in state infections

Electric Boat is continuing to see a post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases among its employees.

The company reported it has had 1,152 cases as of 5:30 p.m. Friday. Of those, 178 have come since Jan. 4, when the majority of employees returned from the holiday shutdown, which started Dec. 24.

“Like other employers, we are still seeing the post-holiday uptick that was expected,” Liz Power, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email last week. “The daily reports show people who were at holiday gatherings with others, and then became symptomatic.”

The company has kept an online case count since early in the pandemic. The cases reflect infected employees in Connecticut, Rhode Island and other locations, and represent the total tally since the pandemic began.

Of the 1,152 total positive cases, about 960 employees have recovered and returned to work, Power said. Many of the employees currently out sick are “in the period between positive case result and subsequent quarantine until a negative test is secured,” she said.

The current positive cases are spread across the workforce, and not concentrated in one department or work area.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we, like other employers have seen ‘clusters’ in certain work areas, but the feeling is that right now, we’re seeing the post-holiday ‘pop,’” Power said. 

Employees, even those working from home, are supposed to report a positive test result to the company, which does contact tracing to identify others who might be infected, Power said.

The company has seen a steady uptick in cases since the start of November, with more than 600 cases reported since the week of Thanksgiving.

A similar surge in cases has occurred in the state and New London County during that time.

The number of cases in the county grew by about 8,500 to 14,167. In the state, cases grew by more than 116,000 to 223,422, according to data reported by the state Friday. Locally, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London said it was treating 34 COVID-19 patients on Friday; Westerly Hospital had 11.

The number of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut is expanding. Phase 1b of the state’s vaccine rollout officially starts Monday, with Connecticut residents ages 75 and older the first in the next wave to get inoculated.

Front-line essential workers, which includes EB employees, also are eligible to get the vaccine under Phase 1b. The state estimates 1.3 million people are included under this phase, and given that supply of the vaccine is limited at this point, it is rolling out eligibility in waves.

EB has told officials in both Connecticut and Rhode Island that when the time comes, it will have the resources to vaccinate its entire workforce to prevent putting further strain on the health systems in the two states.

The company has ordered additional freezers to increase its capacity to store the vaccines, including the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage.

Day Staff Writer Brian Hallenbeck contributed to this report.

j.bergman@theday.com

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