Stellantis resumes mask mandate at Illinois, Indiana plants

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The maker of Jeeps is resuming a mask mandate next week for all employees regardless of their vaccination status at plants in Illinois and Indiana as COVID-19 cases in their respective counties rise.

The mask mandate will apply to its employees and visitors in Belvidere, Illinois, where Stellantis NV manufactures the Jeep Cherokee crossover, and in Kokomo and Tipton, Indiana, where the transatlantic automaker has casting, engine and transmission plants.

Mark Kreusel, plant manager at Stellantis NV's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the company's health and wellness center there.

"Protecting the health and safety of our Stellantis workforce continues to be our top priority," spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement. "As COVID cases are once again increasing in communities across the country, we continue to strongly advocate that our employees consider getting vaccinated."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone in counties that have "substantial" or "high" transmission wear masks indoors based on new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and the positivity rate over the past seven days. The delta variant is now the main COVID-19 strain in the United States and is more contagious than others.

Indiana's Tipton County is labeled with a "high" transmission rate with 20 cases (which translates to 123 cases per 100,000 people), a 9% decrease, and a 19.5% positivity rate, according to the CDC. The county has a 36.9% fully vaccinated population.

Kokomo's Howard County also is labeled "high" with 125 cases (151 cases per 100,000 people), a 51% increase, and a 12% positivity rate. The county has a 37.8% fully vaccinated population.

Belvidere's Boone County in Illinois has 41 cases (which translates to 77 per 100,000 people) in the past seven days, up 41%, and a 6.5% positivity rate. The county has a 42.2% fully vaccinated population.

Stellantis joins General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. in requiring all employees to wear masks at certain facilities in communities that are experiencing greater transmission of COVID-19 cases.

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday confirmed it is once again requiring face masks to be worn at its facilities in Kentucky, days after the Dearborn automaker reinstated the policy at locations in Missouri and Florida. GM last week reinstated the mask mandate at its plant in Wentzville, Missouri.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble