Ford reinstates mask mandate at facilities in Missouri, Florida amid COVID-19 case rise

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the U.S, Ford Motor Co. is once again requiring employees in certain states to mask up at work.

The Dearborn automaker confirmed Tuesday that it has reinstated its mask mandate for all employees and visitors at its Missouri and Florida facilities as cases rise in those states, a spike experts have attributed to lagging vaccination rates and circulation of the highly-contagious delta variant of the virus. The news first was reported by Automotive News.

Ford Michigan Assembly Plant workers Robert Fox, 60, and Rich Shafer, 50, bump fists after Fox says his new Ford Bronco SUV is on order.

Ford also will now require its U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to any international business travel "due to the potential of increased exposure to COVID-19," spokesperson Kelli Felker said in a statement. 

"Ford continues to strongly encourage all team members who are medically able to be vaccinated," she added.

A COVID-19 task force made up of the three Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers announced in late June that fully vaccinated autoworkers no longer would have to wear masks at work, effective July 12. The automakers opted to rely on an honor system to identify those who were vaccinated and thus could ditch their masks.

But last week, General Motors Co. said it was reinstating a mask mandate at its plant in Wentzville, Missouri.

Missouri has seen cases rise 13.2% over the last seven days compared to the previous week, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Florida is leading the U.S. in COVID-19 cases and seeing hospitalizations in some parts of the state increase at the fastest rate since the onset of the pandemic.

Ford's move to reinstate mask-wearing also comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slated to recommend that vaccinated Americans resume wearing masks indoors in certain circumstances.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski