DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. briefly halted production at two assembly plants two consecutive days after workers tested positive for COVID-19.
Employees at the automaker’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan, where the F-150 pickup is assembled, were sent home early Wednesday afternoon after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a spokeswoman, although the company hoped to restart production later Wednesday evening. Assembly lines at its Chicago Assembly Plant were briefly halted Tuesday afternoon and again overnight after two workers there were found to have the virus.
Ford again halted production at Chicago Assembly Wednesday afternoon following a supplier parts shortage, a spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal reported an issue at a nearby Lear Corp. seating plant, and a Lear spokesman later confirmed that the parts plant, which supplies Ford, closed Wednesday for cleaning after a worker there tested positive for the virus.
The incidents are the first known disruptions at Ford since the automaker restarted output at most North American assembly plants on Monday. They underscore how production will likely resume in fits and starts across the industry, even with broad, new operating protocols in place.
The affected employees in Chicago worked at the SHO Center, named for the Taurus SHO performance sedan that used to be built in Chicago, which sits about a mile from the main plant. Workers there sequence the parts that go into the Explorer and Aviator crossovers.
The Chicago and Dearborn employees had made it through Ford's temperature scanner and daily health survey screening process. It was not immediately clear how Ford became aware they were sick or where they were tested for the virus.
In both cases, Ford notified people known to have interacted or been in close contact with the infected individuals and asked them to self-quarantine for 14 days. The company deep-cleaned the Chicago employees’ work stations and equipment and will do the same in Dearborn Truck.
The automaker said the employees did not contract the virus while at work. Ford previously said it would offer testing to symptomatic employees in metro regions, including Chicago, where it has assembly plants.
“The UAW continues to aggressively monitor the implementation of health and safety protocols to protect our members their families and the community,” union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement.
Ford last month said it would not have testing available for its entire work force by the time most North America factories reopened, but it's working to offer that in the coming months.
The CBS television affiliate in Chicago reported on the situation late Tuesday.