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Electric Boat to start testing its employees for COVID-19 Friday

About 400 Electric Boat employees will be tested for COVID-19 Friday at the company's Groton shipyard, the first step in a testing program that will be rolled out companywide.

The company, which employs nearly 17,000 people, is starting with a small group of workers, including tradespeople, security and fire personnel and others, to ensure the process goes smoothly before it expands testing to more employees and adds testing locations.

On Monday, a second testing location will be set up at the Groton shipyard, and over the next several weeks the company will test employees in New London and Quonset Point, R.I., president Kevin Graney said in a memo to employees Thursday.

"Testing is an important tool that will provide valuable health information as we move forward through this pandemic, and can help limit the spread of COVID-19 at EB and in the community," Graney said. "Tests have been challenging to access, and I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to get tested to make informed healthcare decisions."

The tests, acquired by General Dynamics, EB’s parent company, are being offered at no cost to employees, Graney said.

The submarine builder, deemed an essential business by federal and state governments, has continued to operate during the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 4,000 employees are working remotely, spokeswoman Liz Power said.

Employees will be offered both an antigen test to determine if they are infected with COVID-19, and an antibody test to determine if they have COVID-19 antibodies, indicating prior infection.

The first consists of a nasal swab test that is self-administered. The swab is then sent to a lab for analysis and results will be available within a couple of days, Graney said.

The second test consists of a finger prick to draw a drop of blood and is administered by a trained personnel. Results are provided in about 10 minutes. If an employee’s antigen test comes back positive, a second blood draw will be performed by a licensed phlebotomist and sent to an offsite lab for further confirmation, Graney said.

The company had 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. Of those, 24 employees had returned to work as of May 1. Graney is among those who tested positive for the virus.

Early on during the pandemic, dozens of employees reached out to The Day to express concern over the company's response to the coronavirus outbreak, specifically citing a slow roll out of remote work policies and what they said were insufficient measures to keep employees safe.

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