DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai all idled a U.S. operation on Wednesday after an employee in each location tested positive for COVID-19. Volkswagen of America closed an office in suburban Detroit after an employee there tested positive.
Later on Wednesday, Ford and General Motors said they would close all manufacturing sites in the U.S. Mexico and Canada through at least March 30. FCA was expected to announce a similar move.
FCA said said early Wednesday it was temporarily shutting the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which makes the Ram 1500 pickup, "out of an abundance of caution for the health and welfare of the employees."
The worker who contracted the virus had not been in the plant for more than a week and is receiving medical care, the company said.
"Employees on the first shift have been sent home. Workers on the second shift should not report," FCA said in a statement. "The Company is working to align the plant's shift pattern with yesterday's announced agreement with the UAW. Further information regarding the resumption of operations will be shared later today."
The automaker said it directed co-workers who may have had contact with the employee to self-quarantine for two weeks. The employee's working area was deep-cleaned and disinfected, the company said.
Fiat Chrysler has faced a series of disruptions this past week as a result of the virus.
FCA said 17 workers at the paint shop in its truck plant in Warren, Mich., stopped working over coronavirus concerns. Production at the plant, which makes the Ram 1500 Classic, was not affected.
There also was a roughly 24-hour shutdown last week at the automaker's minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario. FCA Canada said members of the Unifor union refused to work after one person decided to self-quarantine as a precaution because of possible secondary contact with an individual who was being tested for the coronavirus.
A worker at FCA's transmission plant in Kokomo, Ind., tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but the plant has continued to operate.
Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, on Wednesday idled the final assembly building of its Ranger pickup plant in Wayne, Mich., after a worker there tested positive for COVID-19.
Ford, in a statement, said the “health and well-being of our people is our top priority.”
As issued in previous guidance, the automaker will close the building at the Michigan Assembly Plant for 24 hours while it’s cleaned and disinfected. Those who came in contact with the affected worker will be asked to self-quarantine and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
It was not immediately clear how many employees work in the final assembly building. The entire plant employs about 3,000.
The Michigan Assembly worker is the second Ford employee in the U.S. known to have tested positive for the virus. Ford on Tuesday said an employee at building 5 of its product development center in Dearborn, Mich., also tested positive, but had been working remotely for a number of days so co-workers were not in danger.
Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant also is down until Wednesday evening after a supplier parts disruption due to COVID-19.
Hyundai plant closes
Hyundai suspended production at its Montgomery, Ala., plant Wednesday after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, and will completely disinfect the facility before resuming output.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama “is suspending production in all areas, for all shifts,” the company said in a press release. “HMMA has notified the Alabama Department of Public Health of this case. Our team members have been informed of the situation.”
Plant officials are conferring with the state health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control to determine if additional measures should be taken regarding plant cleaning.
Hyundai said that once the plant’s health and safety team has determined that production is safe to resume, “our members will be informed.”
The plant, which employs about 3,000, produces the Elantra compact sedan, Sonata midsize sedan and the Santa Fe crossover.
Volkswagen of America office
Volkswagen of America has confirmed that an employee in its suburban Detroit office has tested positive for COVID-19, causing the facility to close.
Volkswagen said the employee, whom it did not identify, "had a fever a week ago and has since stayed home from work." The German automaker said it "immediately informed" employees and requested that they self-quarantine, and closed its building for a deep cleaning. A spokesman for the automaker said the infected employee is no longer displaying symptoms of the virus, but remains in self-quarantine.
The building in Auburn Hills, Mich., houses engineering, purchasing, quality, customer service and regulatory teams for Volkswagen, as well as for some of its sister brands. Volkswagen said it asked all employees on March 13 who could work from home to do so until further notice.
"We wish our colleague a quick recovery," Stefan Baier, head of Volkswagen Group of America human resources, said in a written statement. "We will continue to take all necessary preventative and responsive measures to help prevent the spread of this virus and to help keep our fellow employees, their families and our communities safe."
The company occupies all of the roughly 365,000-square-foot building at 3800 Hamlin Road, formerly the company's North American headquarters, which moved to Herndon, Va., near Washington in 2008.