Ford, GM, FCA to shut down plants due to coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

UAW leader asked for closures

FCA Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit (WDIV)

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler will close their plants due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

GM and FCA both said in statements that they would progressively shut down the plants.

Ford said in a statement Wednesday that its U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities will be halted after Thursday evening’s shifts through March 30 to “thoroughly clean and sanitize the company’s plants."

“UAW and Ford leaders will work together in the coming weeks on plant restart plans as well as exploring additional protocols and procedures for helping prevent the spread of the virus," reads the statement from Ford.

General Motors also released a statement explaining the shutdown will be until at least March 30.

“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

GM says it is working with the UAW to make sure all employees will be compensated.

The decision to shut down plants comes after COVID-19 cases were confirmed at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and at the final assembly building at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. On Tuesday, UAW President Rory Gamble said he already had called on the automakers to shutter the factories to help slow the spread of the virus.

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Gamble said in a letter Tuesday that he was urging the companies to stop production temporarily.

Many businesses are closed after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order directing certain establishments to shut.

Production had continued at the American facilities amid the crisis, only allowing workers who can work from home do so.

READ: Here are the 4 coronavirus-related Executive Orders signed by Michigan Gov. Whitmer on Monday

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention and Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.

About the Authors:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.