Local company says it can't get testing help
Swiftships in Morgan City has a handful of positive COVID-19 cases, but its production workforce has been “crippled” due to what President Jeff Leleux said has been a lack of help in securing testing to get his employees back to work on U.S. government contract work.
Leleux said Wednesday that five employees had tested positive for the virus, while more are in quarantine due to contact with those employees, even if they don’t have any symptoms. On top of those, another 23 employees were absent Wednesday for unknown reasons.
Leleux said he has attempted to secure help in testing employees through different avenues, including the state, to no avail. He said he was told that exposed employees won’t be tested if they are asymptomatic.
“If I could have a testing process to get them back to work quickly if they test negatively, I avoid all of this,” he said.
A request for comment through the state Office of Public Health’s Communications Department was not returned.
Leleux said the financial cost of his company providing the testing isn’t an issue.
“The loss of production is way worse than paying for a test,” he said.
Leleux said COVID-19 has slowed multiple aspects of Swiftships’ business.
“We’re running up against a brick wall” with a lack of testing, Leleux said, noting the impact on their production affects U.S. national defense and security because they build military boats.
He said the effect is worse than the high-water event in 2011 in which water flooded their yard.
“This is worse, because at least that, we were able to move vessels to other areas and work on them,” Leleux said. “This is picking off employees little by little.”
Leleux urged his employees to be responsible outside of work.
“Company representatives wish to inform all employees, family members and friends of employees that the company is following the protocols to ensure worker safety, but employees must do the same when not at work to try and assist in the battle against COVID,” the company said in a statement.