NFS workers test positive for COVID-19

Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin has confirmed multiple cases of the COVID-19 virus among its approximate 750-employee workforce.

ERWIN — Three employees of the Nuclear Fuel Services plant have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The company confirmed multiple cases of the virus among its approximate 750-employee workforce on Tuesday..

While the company did not disclose the number of workers at the plant who have tested positive for the virus, Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely said three employees at the Erwin plant had tested positive for the virus as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Because all three of the NFS workers reside outside Unicoi County, government data tracking the spread of the virus has included their infections in their home counties, leaving Unicoi County with only one confirmed case of COVID-19, Evely said.

In a statement released to local media on Tuesday, NFS officials said the company is “acutely focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees and the community.”

The  NFS release states: “Our coronavirus response protocols call for enhanced cleaning across the site, social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizing and use of face masks.

“In addition, NFS follows the CDC’s guidance governing self-quarantine for those who may have been exposed to coronavirus or who become ill. Employees who experience COVID-19-like symptoms, have potentially been exposed or are ill have been instructed to stay home.

“The coronavirus is obviously having a significant impact throughout our nation and our region. Like every other company, we are working hard to adapt to the current environment, even as it evolves on practically a daily basis,” NFS officials said in the statement.

As a supplier of nuclear fuel for the U.S. military, NFS is designated an essential business which will allow it to continue operating during the ongoing COVID-19 shutdowns.

Evely, who is receiving daily updates from regional health officials, on Wednesday extended the state of emergency declaration for Unicoi County until April 22.