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Active coronavirus cases at SRS dip below 100

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SRR pipefitters with masks (copy)

Savannah River Remediation pipe-fitters Africona Washington, left, and Brandon Bly support a job in the H Tank Farm at the Savannah River Site. Both are wearing masks. (Submitted photo)

The number of active coronavirus cases in the thousands-strong Savannah River Site workforce has dipped below 100, a reflection of a broader downward trend in cases across South Carolina.

Ninety-three active COVID-19 cases were reported among the workforce Friday morning, according to a Department of Energy spokesperson. A week prior, the tally was notably higher: 134. The week before that, again higher at 163.

Near the end of January, more than 200 Savannah River Site employees were quarantined. The recent downturn in active cases appears to have started the week ending Jan. 15.

The first case of COVID-19 in the workforce – about 11,000 people – was logged in March 2020. The New York Times late last year branded the Savannah River Site as a significant coronavirus cluster. That didn’t sit well with some officials.

South Carolina faced its first crush of coronavirus cases around June and July 2020, state health department data show. The caseload leveled out in September and October of that year and then spiked in the wake of the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.

The Savannah River Site remains in its first phase of coronavirus recovery; teleworking is still emphasized, and other measures to combat the spread of the virus, like mandatory masking, physical distancing and a boosted sanitation regimen, are in place.

The site's methodical transition back to normal operations began months ago. Work at the nuclear-waste-and-weapons reserve was dramatically pared back following Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's stay-at-home order. SRS leadership and the site’s infectious disease response team considered Kemp's order and acted accordingly, an Energy Department spokesperson said at the time.

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