Coronavirus Response Suspends Some Construction; NY and NJ Governors Cite Need for Building Medical Facilities

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday March 17

For most companies in the construction industry, it remains business as usual with bid openings and construction continuing, states are stepping in to suspend some projects as part of the extraordinary measures being taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is suspending all construction projects through March 30, but PennDOT crews will be available for “critical functions and emergency maintenance.”

In Bergen County, NJ, county executive Jim Tedesco ordered all construction suspended and utility roadwork done only in emergency situations. It remains to be seen if this is enforceable or companies will follow Tedesco’s order or fight it.

But while non-emergency construction was being suspended in some places, the governors of New York and New Jersey are looking to turn college dorms, former nursing homes and other buildings into medical facilities to treat patients as hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed. Private developers, construction workers, and the National Guard are expected to be needed for these emergency projects. The plan is currently a backup in case the federal government does not meet his request to send the Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary hospitals.

Before state and local governments began enacting these more extreme measures to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the disease and its impact on hospitals, there have been reports of specific sites across the country shutting down after a worker tested positive and companies taking precautions to keep workers safe.

The Associated General Contractors has a webpage dedicated to the virus with information about symptoms and what constitutes a reportable workplace illness. “AGC will continue to monitor the situation and update the information on this page accordingly,” the site said.

Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control recommended no groups with more than 50 people for approximately eight weeks.

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