NG Workers Race to Power Up COVID-19 Test Site

By Jennifer Bray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The call came into National Grid at 2 p.m. on a chilly Sunday.

The urgent request was from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

Their mission was clear. To turn a parking lot at the Twin River Casino into a drive-through
COVID-19 rapid-testing site. But to do that, they needed power.

By 2:50 p.m. Jorge Claudino, a senior electric line supervisor with National Grid, was at Twin
River with a plan.

“We’ve been involved with other critical jobs before, but what made this so impactful on the
whole community was the increasing severity of the COVID-19 situation, this made it very
different,” said Claudino, who has been with the Company for 33 years.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health on Wednesday, there were 35 COVID-associated
deaths, 143 people were hospitalized and 1,450 people who tested positive for
COVID-19.

The drive-through testing site in Lincoln, run by CVS Health, can process and deliver up to
1,000 tests a day, with results in minutes, according to CVS. But to do all that testing, more than
generators would be needed on-site.

That’s where Claudino and his crew of six came in. “I assessed what we needed for
construction, which was installing four poles, wires and a transformer,” Claudino said. Once Dig
Safe signed off on the job site, that’s when all the action really started to happen.

For the next thirteen hours, from 6 p.m. Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday, Claudino and his crews
worked to bring electricity to the area.

The critical work undertaken by National Grid helps in the efforts to double the testing capacity
in Rhode Island, as the pandemic continues to ignite around the globe without a cure.

“Our workers are all part of the community and there was civic and community pride knowing
the importance of this contribution”, said Wally McDonald, who is the Manger for Overhead
Lines. “This team worked overtime to get this job done,” he said.

As patients pull up to the testing site, they are given a self-administered nasal swab test, which
is collected and then they are sent to the waiting area in their vehicle to wait for the test results.

The electricity being used to support the healthcare teams at the front lines power up the
laptops used to check-in patients, keeps the machinery going to scan results and runs heaters
at a certain temperature for the testing. Generators are on site to be used in case of an
emergency.

On Tuesday during her daily press briefing, Gov. Gina Raimondo said that the rapid testing site
is a giant leap forward in efforts to combat the virus. “I want to thank National Grid,” said Gov.
Raimondo. “They put up that test site pretty much overnight Sunday and that was no small feat,
so thank you National Grid and thank you to everyone who is there working and making it
happen.”

For Jorge Claudino, this rapid-fire project was more than a job. “You are doing it not only for the
Company but to benefit the general public by getting this up and running and I know all the guys
on my crew feel the same way.”