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Ford pauses production at Kansas City Assembly Plant after worker tests positive for COVID-19

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. temporarily paused production at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, on Tuesday to deep clean after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

A UAW official confirmed an hourly worker had tested positive and the affected area was cleaned to protect other UAW members on the line.

Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager, told the Free Press only the Transit Van side of the plant was affected, that F-150 pickup production was not disrupted, and Transit production resumed after approximately one hour.

Few details were available about the situation. Felker declined to confirm whether the company sent workers home or whether workers left the job site.

During the first week of the industry restart May 18, Ford shut down its Chicago Assembly Plant twice for issues related to coronavirus at the plant and involving a supplier. The company builds the Ford Explorer, Police Interceptor SUV and Lincoln Aviator in Chicago.

Also last week, Ford sent home workers early from the Dearborn Truck Plant, which also builds the F-150 pickup, due to coronavirus infection and exposure among workers and deep cleaning. A second shift delayed restart of the assembly line the same day, on May 20, due to concern related to worker safety and cleaning protocols. Deep cleaning at the plant was done between shifts.

Ford acknowledged the delay at the time and said discussion between workers and their supervisors eased worries. Assembly line shutdowns are costly to manufacturers. Ford declined to comment on the financial toll of the shutdowns.


Brian Rothenberg, UAW spokesman, said Tuesday that Ford is following protocol by doing a deep clean after a worker tests positive.

"We continue to vigilantly monitor and make sure these protocols are being implemented correctly," he said. "We continue to look for enhanced protocols to make things safer. We want as much testing as possible and we want full testing when it's available."

Ford notified workers by robocall this week that its daily employee questionnaire had changed to include whether a worker or a member of the worker's family was waiting for a possible positive test result.

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