Ford reinstates mask mandate at Kentucky plants amid COVID-19 surge

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

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.

The reinstatement of the company's mask mandate, which had been lifted for vaccinated employees and visitors earlier this month, comes amid a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant and lagging vaccination rates in some parts of the country.

Earlier this week, the company confirmed it was once again requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status, at its facilities in Missouri and Florida as cases in both states climb.

"We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case data and make further protocol changes in other locations where the data indicates it is necessary," Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker said in a statement.

The automaker also said earlier this week that it now will require its U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to any international business travel.

Ford has two plants in Louisville that collectively employ approximately 13,000 people. Kentucky Truck Plant builds Ford F-250 to F-550 Super Duty Trucks, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Louisville Assembly Plant builds the Ford Escape and the Lincoln Corsair.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville reported that all but 23 of Kentucky's 120 counties fall under new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says people in areas of "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 spread should mask up in indoor public places, even if they are vaccinated.

The newspaper and other media outlets also reported that the campaign of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is funding radio ads encouraging Kentuckians — less than half of whom are vaccinated — to get their shots.

General Motors Co. last week reinstated its mask mandate at its plant in Wentzville, Missouri.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski