38 test positive for COVID-19 at uptown tower construction site, prompting a shutdown

38 test positive for COVID-19 at uptown tower construction site, prompting a shutdown
38 workers at an uptown tower construction site have tested positive for COVID-19, the general contractor said Friday (Source: O)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - Thirty-eight workers at the construction site for an uptown apartment tower have tested positive for the coronavirus and the project has shut down temporarily, the general contractor said Friday.

As a result of the spike in cases, most of which occurred in the past week, Hoar Construction decided to shut down the job site until June 1, Randall Curtis, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

While it is closed, Curtis said Hoar will conduct a deep cleaning and sterilization of the site, which is along North College Street between 8th and 9th streets. Hoar will work with a third-party company to beef up screening on the site when it reopens, he said.

He said the company is working to test all of the 350 employees, and they must receive a negative test or self-quarantine to return to work.

It’s the latest outbreak at a Charlotte construction site, after the general contractor for the expansion of the Charlotte Convention Center confirmed four positive COVID-19 cases on that site earlier this week.

Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told reporters Friday afternoon she wasn’t aware of any local construction sites or facilities shut down due to coronavirus cases.

“We’ve not had anything like that here in Mecklenburg County,” Harris said, referencing a Tyson Foods poultry facility that temporarily closed in Wilkesboro following an outbreak.

Harris told county commissioners on Tuesday night that coronavirus clusters on construction sites had “just come to our attention.” Harris had estimated five to seven construction workers were infected with the virus at individual sites, but she acknowledged there could be “possibly more than that.”

But county commissioners have pushed for more transparency into the outbreaks and conditions on the worksites.

The project that crews were working on, called the Ellis, is a 33-story residential tower being developed by Lennar Multifamily Communities, a subsidiary of homebuilding giant Lennar Corp. The high-rise will have 365 apartments, while a neighboring six-story building will have 184 units and 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.