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By: Kendall Jones on May 22nd, 2020

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COVID-19 Construction Industry Weekly News Roundup - May 22, 2020

Construction Industry News | COVID-19

This article was originally published on April 17, 2020. Last updated: May 22, 2020.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has turned everyday life upside down. New cases are being identified every day and the death toll continues to rise. Almost every state currently has a shelter in place or stay at home order in place with many businesses and activities are closed in order to help flatten the curve.

In all but a handful of states and cities, construction has been deemed essential work and jobsites remain active. But the construction industry is starting to feel the impact with supply chain disruption of building materials and supplies, labor shortages, and layoffs.

In order to keep our readers updated and informed on this ever-changing situation, we are compiling a weekly construction industry news roundup to bring you the latest happenings regarding the impact COVID-19 is having on the industry, both locally and nationally.

Week of May 18, 2020

May 21, 2020

A new report studying the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. construction costs and schedules by ELECTRI International shows that the response to the novel coronavirus has had a 12% impact on productivity and as much as a 100% impact on profitability. (Daily Commercial News)

OSHA has released new guidelines and is increasing in-person inspections at workplaces. The agency is also requiring employers to record coronavirus cases under the recordkeeping requirements if it is a confirmed case, is work-related, and involves one or more of the criteria for general recording. (Construction & Demolition Recycling)

May 20, 2020

Architectural design services demand recorded its steepest fall in April. The American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI) fell from a score of 33.3 in March to 29.5 in April, a new record low. (AIA)

May 19, 2020

Construction projects are starting back up in Boston, as the city has received almost 2,300 construction safety plans according to Mayor Marty Walsh. The safety plans are a requirement of contractors to be allowed to resume jobsite operations. (CBS Boston)

Four construction workers from one crew on the Charlotte Convention Center expansion project have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the Mecklenburg County health director, there have been multiple outbreaks on construction sites throughout the city. (Charlotte Observer)

May 18, 2020

Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating its first COVID-19 outbreak at a construction site. The investigation is focused on 19 workers from multiple states on the Maine Veterans’ Home project in Augusta after a worker tested positive on May 1. (BDN Augusta)

Week of May 11, 2020

May 14, 2020

Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina is reporting that 16 workers on a campus construction project have tested positive for COVID-19. The contractor is thoroughly cleaning the jobsite and those infected workers will not be allowed to return to work until cleared by public health officials. (Watauga Democrat)

May 13, 2020

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy released an executive order on Wednesday allowing nonessential construction to restart on May 18. Workers are required to wear face masks, work hours should be staggered, and there will be limited break times. (NJ.com)

The City of Boston, which was one of the first to halt construction on all project due to COVID-19 back on March 17, is gearing up to allow some essential projects to resume on May 18. This includes hospitals, public schools, some residential, and road and utility projects. The is also planning to allow all essential construction projects to start back up on May 26. (Boston.com)

May 12, 2020

Construction bidding is getting more competitive as a result of COVID-19 with more bidders and lower prices coming. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, two recently bid projects came in way under their original estimates. (Construction Equipment)

Despite an executive order by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, many construction projects that were ordered to stop work like residential appear to have defied those orders. No enforcement actions were taken against these companies despite multiple complaints from residents. (The Seattle Times)

May 11, 2020

As Kentucky begins restarting its economy, construction firms are allowed to reopen their doors with additional safety precautions. In addition, Governor Andy Beshear is encouraging all residents wear masks in public. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Week of May 4, 2020

May 9, 2020

On May 7, about a dozen members of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transport (SMART) Workers union were organized a protest at the Ledgewood Commons construction site in Roxbury, New Jersey. The workers don’t feel the work should be considered essential and charge that the general contractor is putting profit above public safety. (Tap into Roxbury)

May 8, 2020

The construction industry lost 975,000 jobs in April. The Northeast has been hit especially hard where 53% of construction firms have laid off or furloughed workers according to a survey by the AGC. (WMUR)

May 7, 2020

All construction projects in Michigan are allowed to resume, after being shut down due to a stay-at-home executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. About 200,000 construction workers had been laid off since the order was instituted. (WXYZ)

May 6, 2020

The city of Austin, Texas is seeing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases among construction workers. The city passed a resolution the day after this story aired to fund $1 million in grants for small businesses to help cover expenses for complying with safety protocols to protect workers from contracting and spreading the coronavirus. (KVUE)

May 5, 2020

Up to 25 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to construction on the Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia.   (WSLS)

May 4, 2020

The coronavirus and the associated shelter-at-home orders are creating a unique situation for road construction projects. Less traffic means projects are being completed ahead of schedule and at lower costs but the drop in fuel tax revenues could threaten future projects. (Wired)

delayed projects reports

Week of April 27, 2020

May 2, 2020

Alameda County in California, which was one of the Bay Area Counties that ordered construction projects as nonessential, is allowing projects to start back for existing homes and businesses, new construction of residential, mixed-use, and commercial buildings, and public works construction that comply with new safety protocols. (Patch)

May 1, 2020

A new report from Levelset, The 2020 National Construction Payment Report: Spring Spotlight on Jobsite Coordination, reveals that poor jobsite coordination and late payments has become the status quo and the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating those issues. (Levelset)

April 30, 2020

Between 14 and 18 construction workers on the D.C. Crossing residential building in the Navy Yard have tested positive for COVID-19. Clark Construction is the general contractor on that project as well the Cannon House Office Building renovation project where around a dozen workers have tested positive for COVID-19. - DCist

April 29, 2020

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is planning to allow construction activity to resume in the state starting on May 7. This will be dependent on a decrease in the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 and a rise in testing. – WXYZ

Starting on May 4, six of the San Francisco Bay Area counties are allowing all construction to start back up. The order halting construction came back on March 16, making it one of the first places to see construction projects shut down as a result of COVID-19. - Patch

April 28, 2020

According to the AGC, construction employment declined in 99 of the 358 metro areas from March 2019 to March 2020. Construction employment increased in 205 metro areas and remained flat in the other 54. - Contractor Magazine

April 27, 2020

Thirteen more construction workers at Plant Vogtle, the nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 143 cases. - WRDW

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Week of April 20, 2020

April 26, 2020

While no actual timetable was given, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for reopening the state has construction and manufacturing functions with low risk in phase one of the plan. – New York State

April 25, 2020

The Kalahari resort construction project in Round Rock, Texas was forced to halt construction as workers on the jobsite tested positive for COVID-19. As a precaution the general contractor, Hensel Phelps, the affected areas of the site were shut down for cleaning and sanitizing. – CBS Austin

April 24, 2020

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe is allowing all construction to start back up starting on May 1, as long as contractors follow new safety guidelines. – Philadelphia Inquirer

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is allowing construction projects that were already underway to resume operations as long as social distancing can be maintained along with other requirements. - Q13 Fox

The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, one of the largest construction unions in Massachusetts, and represents around 10,000 workers is telling members they can return to work on construction sites if they feel it is safe to do so. – Curbed Boston

April 23, 2020

The latest Construction Confidence Index (CCI) from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is out and expectations for sales, profit margins, and staffing levels all saw big drops. Each fell below 50 for the first time in the history of the survey of construction industry leaders, indicating a contraction in all three segments. – Construction & Demolition Recycling

Despite restrictions on construction activity in New Jersey, many projects in Jersey City are still active due to exemptions allowed under Governor Jim Murphy’s executive order halting all nonessential construction. – Jersey Digs

April 22, 2020

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), just released their Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for March and the numbers are bleak. In March, the ABI had a record fall to a score of 33.3 after posting a 53.4 in February. Scores below 50 indicate a decrease in billings which are a leading indicator of nonresidential construction activity with billings preceding construction starts by about nine months to a year. - AIA

Multiple workers on the Fifth+Broadway construction project in Nashville, Tennessee being overseen by Skanska claim not enough is being done to protect them from the coronavirus after as worker on the jobsite tested positive. – Fox 17 Nashville

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe has released his phased plan for reopening the state and allowing some businesses to resume operations. As part of the plan, limited building construction can resume statewide beginning on May 1, days earlier than the planned date of May 8. – The New York Times

Kaiser Permanente is converting on old warehouse in Berkeley, California into a COVID-19 testing site. The $14 million construction project will provide laboratory space to perform 70,000 coronavirus tests per week. The project is expected to be completed in time for the lab to be fully functional by June 1. - Berkeleyside

In South Carolina, where construction is considered an essential business, activity on jobsites remains strong. For healthcare projects, it’s a tale of two extremes. Some hospitals are fast tracking some projects in response to the pandemic that need to be completed with a short turnaround, and others are halting construction to focus their efforts on dealing exclusively with COVID-19. – Charleston Business Journal

April 21, 2020

Congress has approved an additional $320 billion in funds for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses, including many construction firms, keep their workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic. The initial $349 billion in funding for the project was used up in the first two weeks of the program. – Inc.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee released his plan for reopening the state’s economy based on data from a planned rapid and widespread testing. He has also worked with labor unions and the construction industry on a plan to allow limited construction to resume with additional safety measures in place. – The Seattle Times

Delaware Governor John Carney on Tuesday discussed some of the things he is looking at in regards to opening back up the state’s economy. One of the ideas floated would be borrowing money for capital projects in order to provide more work for the construction industry in the state. - WDEL

In Texas, Austin Public Health has traced a number of coronavirus cases back to construction sites. One issues is that you have some contractors and subcontractors with workers traveling between jobsites, making it difficult to pinpoint clusters of outbreak to a specific source. - KXAN

April 20, 2020

The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NVOSHA) has issued new guidelines to the construction industry regarding the coronavirus pandemic. They include social distancing during breaks, encouraging screening of workers, restricting in-person meeting to 10 people or less, and a job hazard analysis and training for all tasks that can’t be completed through social distancing. – 8 News Now

Seven workers on a construction site at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas have tested positive for COVID-19. The construction site was shut down for the second time over the weekend, after the sixth confirmed case was reported, to allow crews to clean and disinfect the site before workers were allowed back on the jobsite on Monday. - KSHB

With construction deemed essential in Wisconsin, contractors are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 respirators due to donations to healthcare workers. The Construction Business Group (CBG) has recently issued new guidance on how to better protect construction workers.  - WKOW

Week of April 13, 2020

April 19, 2020

The Wyoming DOT (WYDOT) and the AGC of Wyoming have worked together to create new safety rules for workers on state highway construction projects. WYDOT is also having project engineers and contractors document any coronavirus-related delays in order to properly address time extensions on projects. – Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order that requires employees in a number of industries, including construction, to wear cloth facemasks when working. – The Valley Breeze

April 18, 2020

Hutton Construction, based in McPherson, Kansas, has been paying workers to package meals for The Outreach Program, which delivers meals to food banks across the globe. The company is committing 900 hours of time in order to package over 250,000 meals, with each meal able to feed six people. – McPherson Sentinel

A construction worker at the new Circa Resort and Casino project in Las Vegas has tested positive for the coronavirus. While work continues on the project, the area where the worker was assigned was shut down so it could be sanitized. The new casino is expected to open in December 2020. – 8 News Now

April 17, 2020

In just 35 days, the Army Corps of Engineers have built 28 alternate care facilities, providing nearly 16,000 additional beds, by converting hotels, dormitories, and convention centers into spaces to treat patients, both with and without COVID-19. – U.S. Dept. of Defense

In March, U.S. homebuilding fell 22%, the worst monthly drop since 1984.  - CNBC

Another construction worker on the Allegient Stadium, future home of the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV Rebels football teams, has tested positive for COVID-19. This marks the third worker at the site who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Mortenson-McCarthy Joint-Venture is the construction managers for the nearly $2 billion project and has instituted additional safety measures and guidelines as construction continues. – 8 News Now

April 16, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of the CARES Act, has run out of the $349 billion available for small businesses to be able to keep their workers employed for eight weeks during the pandemic. Companies that qualified were able to start applying on April 3, 2020 and it was expected to run through June 30, 2020. The Small Business Administration said that they are no longer accepting applications while the Treasury Department and Congress work to approve more funding. - CNBC

In Massachusetts, construction on state bridges, roads, and highways are continuing. Contractors are required to practice social distancing and use personal protective equipment (PPE). According to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, there is a zero-tolerance policy for noncompliance that will result in jobsites being shut down. - Charlestown Patriot-Bridge  

A group of construction businesses and trade associations presented a plan to Washington Governor Jay Inslee to allow construction projects to start back up if social distancing can be maintained with higher-risk projects starting later. Commercial and residential construction was determined to be nonessential under the stay at home order that went into effect on March 23. - The News Tribune

Despite construction being deemed essential in Texas, some construction business owners and workers worry about COVID-19 spreading on jobsites. - KUT

The U.S. Department of Labor is reporting that jobless claims for the week ending April 11 was 5,245,000, down from the previous week that was revised up to 6,615,000. - USDOL

April 15, 2020

In Travis County, Texas, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in the construction industry and the county is working with the National Association of Home Builders to create new guidelines and safety standards on construction sites. - KXAN

Many road construction crews across the country have been able to get ahead of schedule due to reduced traffic. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson indicated that contractors are seeing a 10-20% increase in productivity. - WAFB

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would allow construction to be considered essential and open back up after passing in the House of Representatives. Governor Tom Wolf plans to veto the measure and it doesn’t appear that either chamber would be able to muster the two-thirds vote needed to override the veto. - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Despite many states deeming construction essential, the industry is starting to take a hit due to labor shortages, supply-chain disruptions, and residential and commercial construction projects being put on hold or delayed. - Yahoo! Finance

On March 18, 2020, Shell Chemical Appalachia announced they were temporarily suspending construction on their petrochemical plant in Potter, PA. Construction on the $6 billion ethane cracker plant began back in November 2017 and had about 7,000 workers on the jobsite. The plant is gradually ramping back up construction by adding another 200 workers to the site next week, joining the 300 currently on-site doing repairs and maintenance work.Elwood City Ledger

April 14, 2020

The White House released a list of business executives, industry leaders, on others who will serve on various “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.” Those representing the construction industry includes: David Long, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA); Brendan Bechtel, Bechtel Corporation; Carlos Hernandez, Fluor Corporation; Jerry Howard, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Michael Bellaman, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC); and Stephen Sandherr, The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). - White House

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is facing a $300 million shortfall this fiscal year due to a dramatic reduction in gas tax revenue with less people hitting the roads as part of the state’s stay at home order. Gas tax revenues account for 54% of the state’s transportation budget, meaning some projects could be delayed or canceled. - WWAY

Nonresidential construction starts were up 21.1% in March to $30.5 billion over February’s $25.5 billion. Compared to March 2019, construction starts were down -25.8% and the first quarter numbers were down -13.4% from Q1 2019. The stay at home and shelter in place orders didn’t go into effect until later in the month so it will be worth keeping an eye out for April’s numbers to start seeing how severely the industry is going to be impacted. – ConstructConnect

April 13, 2020

As part of a settlement regarding a bid-rigging scheme investigation for the Colorado Convention Center renovation project, Mortenson Company has been fined $650,000. In addition to the fine, the company has to provide labor and materials totaling at least that amount on a to-be-named construction project related to the COVID-19 pandemic, probably in converting spaces to be used as temporary, makeshift hospitals. - Denver Post

Despite affordable housing construction being exempt from the construction shutdown in New York, developers have voluntarily halted work on 28 projects in New York City.  Many developers and construction business owners are facing a similar dilemma of having to decide whether to keep construction active or temporarily halt work to better protect workers. - Curbed

Six construction workers on the $400 million Montage Big Sky luxury resort in Big Sky, Montana have tested positive for COVID-19. The workers are employed by a subcontractor working for Boston-based Suffolk Construction. Suffolk Construction is screening workers, using sensors to signal when workers get closer than six feet from each other, disinfecting the jobsite regularly, and are no longer bussing workers to the site. - Bozeman Daily Chronicle            

If you come across a news story you'd like us to feature, you can email us.

For additional resources, be sure to check out our Delayed Projects Reports and our COVID-19 Construction Activity Report to see where construction is shut down.

About Kendall Jones

Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.

     
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