DETROIT — A General Motors employee who works at the Cole Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, GM said Tuesday.
The person is the first GM employee in North America known to have the virus.
The automaker has been in contact with the family and activated its emergency response plan. GM had instructed employees to work remotely if possible, starting March 16.
GM's medical team is contacting those who may have had direct contact at work with the affected employee, GM said in a statement. Those individuals will be directed to self-quarantine for 14 days, and GM's medical team will help employees coordinate care if they develop symptoms.
Between 11,000-12,000 employees work in the Cole Engineering Center, GM spokesman Jim Cain said.
The company has been in contact with public health officials and has deep cleaned and disinfected the site.
"Going forward, we will continue to take aggressive steps to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep families safe," GM said in an emailed statement.
The UAW, in a statement, said it is working with GM on the crisis.
“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," the statement said. "It is important that our members are quarantined in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The UAW is working with GM to inform any members who should be in quarantine."
"The UAW feels strongly that no member should be disadvantaged in response to doing the right thing regarding the coronavirus exposure. Our first priority is to ensure the health and welfare of our members. That includes instances of quarantine which are in the best interest of our members, the public and the company operation."
It was not immediately clear if the person who tested positive was a member of the UAW. Most employees at the Tech Center are salaried employees.
On Tuesday, GM launched a sweeping program aimed at keeping Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners safe and connected and to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The program includes 0 percent interest on 84-month loans and deferred payments of up to 120 days to customers in top credit tiers. The automaker also is giving all current owners of its vehicles free OnStar crisis-assist services.
GM has placed restrictions on employee travel and implemented additional screenings of all visitors to GM facilities. The Detroit 3 and the UAW created a joint task force Sunday to enhance protections for manufacturing and warehouse workers.