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Ford temporarily closed its Chicago Assembly Plant after two employees test positive for COVID-19 a day after reopening

Abdel Jimenez, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

CHICAGO -- A day after resuming operations at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant on the city's Southeast Side, the U.S. automaker temporarily closed its facility Tuesday for disinfection because two employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The Torrence Avenue plant, which makes the new 2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor SUVs, opened again Wednesday morning and is operating in two shifts, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said.

At full capacity, three crews work the assembly plant seven days a week. Ford's nearby stamping plant in Chicago Heights also reopened Monday, but it did not experience a temporary closure this week, Felker said.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said it notified workers known to have been in close contact with the infected individuals at the Chicago Assembly Plant and asked them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"It is important to note that due to incubation time, we know these employees did not contract COVID-19 while at work. Our protocols are in place to help stop the spread of the virus," Felker said in a statement.

Ford and other U.S. automakers have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, shuttering production at many plants for almost two months.

On Monday, Ford started resuming operations at most of its U.S. plants. The company said it has implemented safety measures like temperature scans upon arrival, requiring face masks for everyone entering a Ford facility, providing safety glasses with side shields or face shields when jobs don't allow for social distancing, and spreading time between production shifts to limit interaction between employees. The company is also asking employees to complete a daily survey that screens them for COVID-19 symptoms.

 

The automaker also announced last week it signed contracts with health systems in four cities with major Ford facilities to test hourly and salaried employees who show COVID-19 symptoms. In Chicago, Ford employees will be tested through the University of Chicago Medical Center and University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey.

There about 7,000 employees working at the Chicago Assembly Plant and the nearby stamping plant. Workers who have symptoms or who are suspected of having the virus will be given a same-day testing appointment when appropriate. Ford's goal is to have results available within 24 hours.

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