Ford shuts two U.S. plants due to coronavirus infections

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 22, 2020

Ford Motor Co. closed its Chicago assembly plant for several hours on Tuesday after two employees tested positive for Covid-19, a sign of the choppy restart ahead as the auto industry resumes production after a two-month shutdown.

The Chicago assembly plant briefly suspended production Wednesday afternoon, due to a shortage of parts from a supplier, according to Ford.

The plant, which assembles the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator SUVs, was also closed the day before when two workers on different shifts also tested positive. The latest closure happened after a Lear Corp factory in Hammond, Indiana, which makes seats for Ford's Chicago plant, idled its assembly plant, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Ford Chicago plant is slated to resume production on Wednesday evening.

Ford said they are deep cleaning and disinfecting the work area, equipment, team area and the path the worker took, and they expect to resume production on Wednesday night. Lear later confirmed in an email that it had closed the plant because of a positive test.

In response to the criticism, Kroger said that, in addition to the temporary raise, it has given bonuses to hourly workers twice since the pandemic started.

"The UAW is aggressively looking at and monitoring the process and the protocols and how they're being implemented across the country", UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in response to the incident.

Felker said Ford is confident that infected employees of both plants had the virus before returning to work because of the coronavirus incubation time.

Union officials and experts had been concerned about reopening auto plants while the virus remained rife, pointing to difficulties in maintaining social distancing on assembly lines where employees work side by side and in cramped quarters. In an interview with CBS Chicago, Ford employee Michael Hopper said the facility where he is employed is "crowded" and people are "on top of each other".

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