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13 coronavirus cases confirmed at Plant Vogtle, Georgia Power says

Plant Vogtle construction, Georgia Power (copy) (copy)

Construction at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia, is pictured.

The total number of COVID-19 cases at the Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 construction site has more than doubled since early Friday, breaking into the double digits.

As of Saturday morning, 13 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at the nuclear-reactor buildout near Waynesboro, Georgia. Twelve tests are pending, a Georgia Power spokesperson said, while 84 other tests have returned negative.

Georgia Power is one of four joint owners of Plant Vogtle, where two nuclear reactors, Units 1 and 2, are up and running and two more, Units 3 and 4, are being constructed. The Units 3 and 4 workforce comprises roughly 9,000 people, including South Carolinians.

The first case of COVID-19 – the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus – at the plant was disclosed earlier this month. Since then, updates have rolled in from Georgia Power, providing a near-daily (sometimes twice-a-day) glimpse at the workforce's health and posture.

"As COVID-19 continues to affect our communities and our Vogtle 3&4 team, we are committed to giving you the most up-to-date information available to us concerning our team members," reads a Saturday memo signed by Glen Chick, the Units 3 and 4 executive vice president.

Those who worked closely with the people who ultimately tested positive for the virus have been sent home to self-quarantine, the Georgia Power spokesperson said, and monitor themselves for symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"With each person tested, we act quickly, self-isolating the individuals, along with the personnel who have been in close proximity to them, immediately after learning they have been tested for COVID-19," Chick's message reads.

Construction at the Units 3 and 4 site continues amid the pandemic, Georgia Power said, but with new rules and protocols in place to combat the spread of the virus. Tools are disinfected, break schedules are adjusted, the on-site cafeteria is mothballed, certain materials are pre-staged and large, in-person meetings are shunned.

Georgia Power's parent company in a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing cautioned that the coronavirus crisis could affect "construction, testing, supervisory and support activities at Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4." It is too soon, though, to know any exact schedule and budget implications, the documents state.

More than 12,100 cases of COVID-19 – and 428 related deaths, as of Saturday morning – have been recorded in Georgia.

More than 506,000 novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the U.S. alone, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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