Ford temporarily shuts down two plants after employees test positive for coronavirus

Ford temporarily shuts down two plants after employees test positive for coronavirus
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Ford temporarily paused production at two assembly plants this week after employees tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The closures, which occurred at plants in Dearborn, Mich., and Chicago, came as Ford resumed operations at its North American factories for the first time in months. The plant in Chicago briefly suspended operations on Tuesday after two employees tested positive for the virus, a spokesperson told The Hill

The Dearborn Truck Plant, which produces F-150 and Raptor pickups, stopped production on Wednesday after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, The Detroit News noted.  

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The Chicago plant was back in operation by Wednesday morning, and the Dearborn plant was expected to resume production by Wednesday night. 

"When a Dearborn Truck Plant employee who returned to work this week tested positive for COVID-19, we immediately began to notify people known to have been in close contact with the infected individual and asked them to self-quarantine for 14 days," Kelli Felker, Ford's global manufacturing and labor communications manager, said in a statement to The Detroit News. "We are deep cleaning and disinfecting the work area, equipment, team area and the path that the team member took."

Ford said it followed the same process for the Chicago plant where employees tested positive for the virus. Felker noted to CNN that the employees in Chicago worked in a separate building about a mile away from the main assembly plant.

The company decided to shut down the entire complex because vehicle parts from the building where the employees were working are needed on the main assembly line, Felker said.  

Approximately 5,800 employees work at Ford's Chicago plant, and an additional 4,400 workers are employed at the factory in Dearborn.

Ford reopened many plants on Monday after a weeks-long pause in production due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. The automaker is reportedly requiring all employees to wear personal protective equipment and to have their temperatures checked before entering the complexes, among other measures. 

The company also announced over the weekend that it would provide COVID-19 testing in Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas City and Chicago for workers experiencing symptoms.

The health protocols come as concerns persist over the safety of employees working in warehouses, grocery stores, factories and other essential businesses amid the pandemic.