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Norfolk Naval Shipyard implements enhanced screening at gates, widespread face mask issuance

By Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs | April 23, 2020

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) began enhanced screening procedures April 22 for personnel entering the installation, with qualified personnel taking temperatures and asking questions to ensure employees are not exhibiting any symptoms or at increased risk for having COVID-19.  

NNSY is the first installation in the region and first of the four public shipyards to conduct temperature checks at its gates.  To prevent delays at the gates, personnel are encouraged to show a completed daily self-assessment or inform screeners if they have performed it at home. 

“The safer we maintain NNSY, which takes all our efforts, makes our ultimate goal of preventing spread at the shipyard achievable,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Kai Torkelson.  “We’re helping to flatten the curve through preventions such as self-screening at home, undergoing enhanced screening at the shipyard, maintaining physical distancing, and using our hand sanitizers and cleaning kits, all in effort to protect ourselves and our co-workers.  Additionally, we have greatly expanded our availability and issuance of cloth face masks, thanks to the capabilities of our very own Sail Loft, Insulation Shop and volunteers from home.” 

The shipyard has issued face masks throughout all projects, shops and departments to support employees having multiple masks they can alternate daily and launder as needed.  Individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities are required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of physical distance and onboard submarines.  As of April 22, NNSY’s Sail Loft and Insulation Shop has produced more than 23,000 cloth face masks, with an additional 1,200 made by teleworking personnel. 

These are the latest in ongoing efforts in the past several weeks to protect the safety and health of the shipyard workforce.  NNSY has implemented several initiatives to benefit employees both at the job sites as well as teleworking.  For those on site, the shipyard has provided personnel longer lunch breaks to allow more time for handwashing and hygiene, increased shift options and installed handwashing stations in key areas inside the industrial area.  For those teleworking, the shipyard procured additional IT equipment and enabled desktop computers to be transported home so employees can more effectively perform their duties. 

“While we’ve accomplished many important initiatives, we are continually looking for new and innovative ways to keep you, our number one priority, safe and healthy,” said Torkelson to the workforce.  “We’re exploring UV lighting and nanoseptic ultra sanitizing strips that have shown potential for killing the virus.  The strips can even possibly be used on our turnstiles.  You’ll be hearing more about these options in the very near future.” 

NAVSEA Senior Civilian Jim Smerchansky cautioned the workforce not to get complacent and to remember what’s truly at stake for individuals and their loved ones.  “This isn’t about numbers, it’s about our collective health.  ‘Cases’ are people who may be fighting for their lives.  Each ‘case’ has people around them scared for their sick loved one, fearful for their family’s health, and their own health too.  Now is not the time to ease up and start thinking we’re in the clear.  To beat this virus we must continue to practice what is working—physical distancing, reducing the number of trips away from your home to the bare minimum, washing your hands, wearing a mask in public, and taking the physical and mental health breaks that work best for you.” 

 

200422-N-XX785-007 - Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) began enhanced screening procedures April 22 for personnel entering the installation, with qualified personnel taking temperatures and asking questions to ensure employees are not exhibiting any symptoms or at increased risk for having COVID-19. NNSY is the first installation in the region and first of the four public shipyards to conduct temperature checks at its gates.