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DIGGING DEEPER: Downtown construction during COVID-19 pandemic

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TUCSON - While a number of businesses have closed due to COVID-19, construction hasn't seemed to be affected, especially in the downtown area.

That's where the Digging Deeper Team checked out the work sites to see if they were complying with regulations from the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention and social distancing.

For the last year, the sounds of hammers banging, and backhoes beeping has been the sound of progress.

The nearly $40 million DoubleTree Hotel with 170 rooms that will be attached to the Tucson Convention Center is currently under construction.

However, there's been some changes since construction began last May.

Mark Miller is the construction manager for Caliber Development out of Phoenix. 

Miller pointed out a sign at the entrance of the downtown construction project that spells out the CDC guidelines. 

The sign tells employees what's expected of them, including taking their temperature daily before entering the site. 

"If somebody is suspicious we send them home," Miller said. "We've had over 500 individuals working on this site since this started, we haven't had a single case."

Miller added that they have two employees walk around the job site every day, wiping down everything with disinfectant, and cleaning the restrooms.

The majority of the employees also wear masks.

"We make sure all the men wear gloves at all times, gloves have to be disinfected every night before the come back. We recommend the men take clothes off when they get home. Before they go in the house and shoes and change and wash clothes daily," Miller told News 4 Tucson.

"You can keep fairly good social distancing," Miller continued. "Our tour with architects and engineers are after hours when men have gone home and we keep our six-foot separation."

Foreman at two other multi-million dollar downtown construction projects didn't want to go on camera but they did tell News 4 Tucson, they also follow the CDC guidelines and have not had any workers infected.

Ryan Bruce lives in the area and he walks by the construction sites every day.

"They seem to be doing what they're supposed to," Bruce said. "The signs are posted, the workers are wearing masks, they seem to be putting a lot of effort to doing things the right way."

In addition to the signs, the gloves, and masks, there's also hand washing stations.

"We want the community safe, we want the employees safe, and we want to have this open for the gem show," Miller said.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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