LEWISBURG — As a result of three positive COVID-19 cases on two shifts, Quandel —Evangelical Community Hospital’s construction manager — has temporarily suspended interior work on the PRIME (Patient Room Improvement, Modernization, and Enhancement) project, according to a release issued Friday afternoon by the hospital.

“Along with our partner Quandel, the safety of the men and women who are working on the construction site has been and always will be our primary focus,” said William Anderson, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Evangelical. “Together, we are using the long weekend to continue to execute our plan to safely return to work on the inside of the building. The goal is to have interior work resume by Monday, June 1.”

The site will again be completely disinfected and air-handling units will be brought online to aid in improved air circulation throughout the building. Potentially exposed workers have been instructed to self-monitor for symptoms, and accommodations are being made to screen workers interested in doing so. Those meeting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) guidelines will be tested.

These measures complement infection-control protocols put in place at the beginning of April when work at the site resumed, the hospital said. The measures include daily screening, mandatory masking, the installation of hand washing and sanitizing stations, daily disinfection of often-touched surfaces, and the coordination of work to allow for proper social distancing.

Some exterior work, including the curbing and paving in the parking lots, will continue as scheduled.

It was previously announced that the timeline for completion of the PRIME project has been delayed to late September or early October. It is not known at this time if this situation will impact that revised timeline.

“It’s important to understand that the number of positive cases we’ve seen at the PRIME worksite is less than the percentage of positive results we’ve seen in the general public,” said Anderson. “Over the course of a normal workday, we might have around 150 workers from various subcontractors on the site over staggered shifts. With three positive cases, that’s about 2% of the PRIME workforce. Around 10% of the community members we test come back positive.”

Anderson added the presence of COVID-19 at the PRIME construction site is an important reminder that the disease is still active in the area.

As the region looks to re-open, the hospital said residents should continue following infection-control practices, including: Wear your mask when in public; wash your hands regularly; maintain a safe distance; and disinfect often-touched surfaces.

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