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Second SoFi Stadium worker tests positive for coronavirus

Construction continues at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where the Rams and Chargers will be playing on March 19.
Construction continues at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where the Rams and Chargers will be playing, on March 19.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A second construction worker at the SoFi Stadium development in Inglewood has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email by the joint venture overseeing the project. Mandatory temperature checks are being instituted for workers on site.

The email, sent Tuesday by Turner-AECOM Hunt and reviewed by The Times, said the person last worked March 29 on two parking lots at the 298-acre project.

“The worker was located in an isolated area outside the building performing backfill operations in Parking Lots F & G,” the email said. “The individual had not at any time entered the building or used any of its common areas.”

The worker is “receiving care and recovering,” according to the email. Co-workers who had “close contact” with the worker are in self-quarantine and equipment and facilities the worker used are being disinfected.

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“PLEASE NOTE,” one sentence of the email said, using all capital letters, “THE PROJECT REMAINS OPEN TO WORK WITHOUT RESTRICTION.”

A spokesman for the joint venture didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kevin Demoff, Rams chief operating officer, said he’s optimistic SoFi Stadium will be finished on schedule but was not ready to absolutely commit to a date when it will be ready

SoFi is a $5-billion stadium that is scheduled to open in late July with a Taylor Swift concert and will be home to the NFL’s Rams and Chargers. It and other major construction projects in California have been exempt from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order because they are considered critical infrastructure, although last week six Bay Area counties moved to prohibit most commercial and residential projects.

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The Inglewood site’s construction managers have instituted safety measures that include requiring workers to stay at least six feet from one another, increasing the number of toilets and hand-washing stations, having nonessential personnel work from home, and telling workers to stay home if they have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing.

The first worker on the project known to have contracted COVID-19, announced March 29, is an ironworker whose job was in an assembly area outside of the stadium structure. Another worker was a presumptive positive for COVID-19, but workers were told in an email from construction project managers the test came back negative.

Some of the estimated 3,000 workers on the project remain uneasy, saying social distancing is difficult, if not impossible, while doing their jobs correctly.

“There’s still people all over the place gathering,” an ironworker on the project said Tuesday.

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The worker spoke on the condition they not be identified because they feared losing their job.

Some workers have been issued N95 masks by their subcontractors while others have taken to using handkerchiefs or similar cloth items to cover their faces.

Starting Wednesday evening, according to a second internal email reviewed by The Times, all employees on the project will have their temperature taken with noncontact thermometers at six access points to the site.

“This additional measure will help sustain business continuity and ensure compliance with contractual and regulatory obligations,” the email said, listing bus drivers, company officials, consultants, escorts, inspectors, visitors and workers as among those who will be subject to testing.

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A worker tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend and another Monday was said to be “presumed positive,” but it hasn’t stopped construction.

If an individual’s temperature is 100 degrees or higher, they will have a secondary screening five to 10 minutes later in a “stand by area” and be required to list their work locations and individuals they interacted with during the previous 14 days. If their temperature remains elevated, they are required to stay home until their temperature is normal for 72 hours without the use of medication. It’s unclear whether workers would be paid during the absence.

Workers can opt out of having their temperature taken, but won’t be allowed to work.

The second email encouraged major trades to stagger start times for workers, mandated anyone testing positive for COVID-19 to report it to their employer and instructed employees to “leave the work site directly” when their shift ends.

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“This procedure will continue until the CDC and medical experts declare that we are all safe,” the email said.


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