The New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome renovation is the latest stadium construction project to experience a surge of COVID-19 cases, as 32 of the project's more than 275 workers have tested positive for the virus, stadium officials confirmed this week.
“This post-Memorial Day increase is consistent with what 21 other states, not including Louisiana, are experiencing at this stage of the pandemic as more restrictions have been lifted for travel, shopping and work,” the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the agency that operates the Superdome, wrote in a statement to reporters.
The affected workers have gone into isolation away from the jobsite as part of a coronavirus response plan put in place by Broadmoor LLC, the main contractor for the project’s first phase, according to the statement. Under the plan, workers must comply with protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provide Broadmoor with evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before they can return to the site. Broadmoor is also incrasing its mitigation measures and requiring mandatory masks for workers who remain on the jobsite.
The Superdome renovation has continued throughout the pandemic, as Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) deemed construction an “essential” service in the state. “Work has proceeded uninterrupted with mitigation steps that meet or exceed CDC protocols. Broadmoor and Superdome staff continue to work collectively to assure that all workers in the facility adhere to health and safety protocols, which includes access to hand-washing stations, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and that all workspaces are cleaned and sanitized daily,” the statement read.
Medical technicians administer daily temperature checks for all workers who enter the Superdome, and Broadmoor has implemented social distancing measures, including staggered starts and breaks. The jobsite averages about 275 workers daily, but that number fluctuates depending on construction needs.
The Superdome joins the ranks of other NFL stadium construction projects where workers have become infected with COVID-19. Over the past month, more than a dozen construction workers at SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles tested positive for the virus, while at least 15 cases emerged among workers on the Allegiant Stadium construction site in Las Vegas.
This year marked the beginning of a four-year, $450 million renovation of the 44-year-old Superdome. Heavy construction on the multi-phase project will take place in phases between football seasons and around other major events.
The renovations to the Superdome’s interior will include removing interior ramps to allow for expanded entryways and create a more open and airy environment. Expanded concourses will make room for new food and beverage services, while suites and clubs will receive upgrades and modernized viewing features.
The $100 million first phase of construction is considered the “enabling stage,” during which contractors will put in stairs and elevators so they can remove ramps to make way for new amenities.
In addition to Broadmoor LLC, other members of the project include Trahan Architects, the same firm that helped restore the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, and Gensler, which drafted an initial assessment for stadium officials on structural changes for the renovation. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.