Coronavirus strikes oil rigs in Gulf of Mexico

At least 26 offshore workers in the Gulf tested positive

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The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been confirmed in more than two dozen people working on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard said.

While an offshore rig might seem like an unlikely place for the virus to show up, workers share close quarters and frequently touch surfaces including handrails that make it difficult to stop the spread, nola.com, Times-Picayune's website, reported Wednesday.

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As of April 8, 26 offshore workers in the Gulf had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Coast Guard. Only seven of the 680 platforms in the Gulf had been affected at that point.

BP is among the companies that has had offshore workers test positive for the coronavirus, said spokesman Jason Ryan. The workers were already onshore when the virus was confirmed, he said, and the platform has since been cleaned and has new crew members on board.

Oil rig and support vessel offshore (iStock)

Efforts to limit the spread of the virus on platforms appear to be working, said Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association. Just 11 COVID-19 cases were detected in the last two weeks in the roughly 15,000 people who work offshore at any given time, he said Monday.

“We see what we think are great results,” he said. “I think that’s due to the seriousness and the commitment we’ve seen.”

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