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Bath Iron Works to require Maine workers to wear face masks amid the coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak

Officials with General Dynamics won't require Maine BIW workers to wear masks during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak until later this week

BATH, Maine — Bath Iron Works will soon require all employees to wear a cloth face-covering to meet the new United States Center for Disease Control guidelines while at work during the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released Sunday, the company said this precaution would not be enforced Sunday night or Monday, but encourage employees to start wearing the masks immediately. Officials said the mandatory policy would not be in place until sometime this week.

Bath Iron Works, owned by General Dynamics, also asked employees not to wear surgical grade masks or N-95 respirators since those should be reserved for healthcare workers.

The statement went on the read, "In addition to social distancing, good hygiene and symptom awareness, wearing face coverings/masks is an important additional step recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The President and the federal CDC announced these new recommendations on Friday to help prevent the spread of the virus. 'In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in the community setting,' according to the federal government website faq.coronavirus.gov."

How you can make your own mask without a sewing machine.

On Friday following the news of a second worker testing positive for COVID-19, Gov. Janet Mills and Maine’s Congressional Delegation renewed their call for the Dept. of Defense to take action to protect the health of shipyard employees.

“We have repeatedly and clearly expressed to the Defense Department our concern for the health and safety of the hardworking men and women at Bath Iron Works and the stability of the defense industrial base in the face of the coronavirus,” the Delegation said in a statement.

BIW workers have continued to express concern over the coronavirus pandemic and the workplace.

BIW telecommunications and mobility technician Shauna Silva told NEWS CENTER Maine last week, "Obviously you can't let all of the ship workers [work from home] because they're building a ship, but the office workers, I think we're overlooked."

It's a dilemma another employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said many at BIW are facing. 

"I know there's a number of folks who are anxious, worried and feel like they're trapped between choosing between their health and their family's health and their job," said anonymous.

BIW says workers have to provide their own face masks. The company is set to issue detailed guidelines regarding this health and safety measure Monday.

If you would like to see what the new U.S. CDC face mask guidelines are, simply click on this link

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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