by Bill P.
Ford restarted operations on Monday, May 18, with strict new measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including new 24-hour testing protocols for employees in four regions and requiring temperature checks and wellness self-assessments before entering any facility. But efforts proved not enough to eliminate the threat the highly contagious virus poses if even one employee is sick.
A day after resuming production, Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant had to close Tuesday to disinfect after employees tested positive. The Southside Chicago plant reopened the next day, but again had to close due to supply shortages. That same day, Ford was forced to close its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan because an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Over 7,000 people are employed at Ford’s Chicago Assembly and Chicago Stamping plants and another 46,000 employees work out of Southeast Michigan.
To ensure a quick response to infected employees Ford is providing COVID testing in Southeast Michigan, Louisville, KY, Kansas City and Chicago for hourly and salaried employees experiencing symptoms. In Southeast Michigan, Ford is collaborating with Beaumont Health for testing. In Louisville, Ford employees can be tested through University of Louisville Health. In the Kansas City area, testing is available through Liberty Hospital. In the Chicago area, employees can be tested through the University of Chicago Medical Center and UChicago Medicine-Ingalls Memorial Hospital. Test results are immediately shared with Ford doctors and all employees who have been in contact must self-quarantine for 14 days.
New safety protocols are detailed in Ford’s comprehensive Manufacturing Return to Work Playbook to and include requiring facemasks or face shields, daily temperature checks, temperature scans and more frequent cleaning between shifts.
Ford plans to maintain production under these new guidelines with the hope that transmission of COVID-19 will be at a minimum and they can begin to recover the massive losses suffered since operations shut down in mid-March.