Warren GM, Dearborn Ford employees test positive for coronavirus

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Salaried employees at Ford Motor Co.'s production development campus in Dearborn and General Motors Co.'s Warren Technical Center campus have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the automakers said Tuesday.

Both workers are in quarantine and receiving medical attention, the companies said.

The Ford employee was working remotely after Ford allowed non-critical business employees to do so if their job permitted, company spokesman T.R. Reid said. The individual was exposed to the virus after leaving the office several days ago and was working remotely, so the employee was not in any Ford facility.

As a result, no other Ford employees came into contact with the individual. The employee works in Building 5 of the Dearborn automaker's campus on Rotunda Drive near Oakland Boulevard.

The automaker has said it will close a facility for 24 hours to clean if a worker there tests positive. But because the employee never returned to the office, "there is no need," Reid said. The company learned of the case Monday night and notified employees Tuesday.

The General Motors Co. employee was in the Cole Engineering Center. GM's medical team now is contacting individuals who may have had direct contact at work with the affected salaried employee and they will be directed to self-quarantine for 14 days The company has been in contact with public health officials and said it has "moved quickly to deep clean and disinfect work and common areas at the site."

The news comes as all three Detroit automakers work with the United Auto Workers on task force to enhance coronavirus protections for manufacturing and warehouse workers and as workers at some of those facilities grow increasingly concerned about going to work.

GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra last Friday told employees to work from home if they could, which included employees at the Cole Engineering Center. GM shutoff access to the building last night for cleaning and it should reopen today.

"We have been in contact with the family and put our emergency response plan into action, building on the preventive measures we have already taken, which include directing employees at the Cole Technical Center and other sites to work remotely if possible," GM said in a statement.

The UAW is working with GM to inform any members who should be in quarantine.

“Our thoughts are with our member and their family, coworkers and friends at GM’s Warren Technical Center, who rightfully are worried about their loved one’s health and their exposure to coronavirus," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement.

To reduce the spread of the virus at its facilities, GM has specifically: restricted domestic and international travel, done additional screening of all visitors prior to entry into GM facilities, reduced or eliminated in-person meetings and adjusted production schedules and reducing overtime at plant locations to create additional cleaning opportunities.

A salaried employee at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana tested positive and received medical attention last week. Those with whom he came into close contact also were put in self-quarantine.