The autoworker who tested positive for the coronavirus at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn Truck Plant “had to be reminded numerous times by management and union officials to wear his mask while working,” Ford and UAW sources told the Detroit Free Press.
The worker’s positive COVID-19 test result caused the Dearborn, Michigan, plant, which assembles Ford’s F-150 trucks, to temporarily shut down on Wednesday so the facility could be deep-cleaned and individuals who were in contact with the infected worker could be sent home for a 14-day quarantine.
Manufacturing teams at the plant were sent a text message on Wednesday afternoon instructing all United Auto Worker (UAW) hourly workers to go home, the Free Press reported.
The Free Press reviewed a copy of a text message sent to a Ford employee which stated that the individual who tested positive was working “over the past 2 days” and “had to be reminded to put his mask on while working. Union official had one on one contact with employee regarding his not wearing a mask.”
Ford and UAW sources who spoke with the Free Press confirmed that the infected worker had to be told repeatedly to wear his mask. Both sources asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly:
The [UAW] worker noted that factory workers have paper masks, face shields and gloves. The worker said supervisors told workers the employee sent home worked in the chassis department on line three. A source at Ford confirmed the area of the contaminated worker.
“The employee who tested positive had to be reminded numerous times by management and union officials to wear his mask while working,” a Ford source told the Free Press. “This is a situation not if it was going to happen but when it was going to happen. It’s going to take three to four cases for Ford to shut down the facilities. They’re not going to shut down Dearborn Truck for one case. We’re going to have to see, if the guy is working the line with no mask, you’ve got cars going down the line. If he’s coughing? The investigation has just started.”
Ford’s global manufacturing and labor communications manager, Kelli Felker, said in a statement Wednesday, “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.”
“We are deep cleaning and disinfecting the work area, equipment, team area and the path that the team member took,” she said.
The Dearborn plant’s manufacturing teams work in two 10-hour shifts starting at 6:00 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, sources told the Free Press. After the first crew was sent home early, the clean up was expected to be finished in time for the evening shift. But one UAW worker who spoke with the Free Press expressed doubt that the facility would be cleaned in time. “I’m not gonna be surprised if we get a robocall later telling us not to come in,” the worker said. “I don’t see how you can clean this stuff up in three hours. It’s just crazy. I don’t think we should be working. I’m not scared of it, but I don’t want to be walking around and giving it to people.”
The Dearborn Truck Plant is the second Ford plant to be temporary shut down due a worker testing positive for coronavirus.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant in Illinois shut down temporarily after two workers tested positive for COVID-19. According to Felker, the Chicago plant was also temporarily shut down for deep-cleaning and everyone in contact with the infected workers were notified and asked to “self-quarantine” for 14 days. The plant reopened by Tuesday night, just as the Dearborn plant is expected to reopen Wednesday evening.
Felker stressed that the virus’ long incubation period signifies that they did not get infected at work: “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.”
Both of these temporary shutdowns happened just days after Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler reopened their American plants on Monday after shuttering them for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. All of the plants have been monitoring workers for COVID-19 and enforcing health safety protocols to keep production moving during the pandemic.
Rebecca Mansour is Senior Editor-at-Large for Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125, which broadcasts live weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6-9:00 p.m. Pacific). Follow her on Twitter at @RAMansour.