STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – An employee from the FCA Sterling Heights Assembly Plant has died due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, United Automobile Workers union officials said Tuesday.
A week ago, FCA announced that an employee who hadn’t been at work for a week tested positive for the virus and was receiving care. Production at the plant was suspended the next day.
No further details about the worker who died were provided.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state has confirmed that there are 1,791 cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and 24 people have died.
UAW officials said an FCA worker from Kokomo, Indiana has also died from COVID-19.
Read a full statement from UAW President Rory Gamble below:
"My Brothers and Sisters,
"I have much to update you on today as we all work through this very difficult time. First of all, I want to extend sincere sympathies from myself and the entire International Executive Board for the families of two of our members, one at FCA Kokomo, IN, and one at FCA Sterling Heights, MI, who have lost their lives to this virus. This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family.
"I want you to know that we are working around the clock with companies in every sector, health officials and governmental agencies across this nation to keep our members and our communities safe. This week, as of March 23, 2020, we succeeded in finally getting American Axle and Manufacturing to close the Fraser, MI, facility after a worker tested positive at that location. I’m sorry to say there was a great deal of resistance from the company. I want to recognize the tireless work of our plant chairperson, Trent DeSenglau; our Region 1 Director Frank Stuglin; and our other brothers and sisters at this location in helping us get the company to close this plant.
"We had some other positive news today. Working with the Ford Motor Company, we got the announcement that they will not be reopening plants on March 30, as was originally planned, due to numerous stay-at-home orders from government officials. We commend Ford for this action. FCA has told us that they intend to comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order and have no plans to reopen on March 30. We are waiting to hear from GM and are demanding that they put our members’ safety first and adhere to government and health officials’ recommendations to stay-at-home. We will keep you updated.
"In another positive development, the UAW and Ford Motor Company will be collaborating to find ways to help improve and protect lives across the country during this crisis. And, news from the UAW GM department announced a collaboration with the company to produce much needed ventilators to help save lives.
"I know so many of our friends and family members are scared and experiencing tremendous difficulties and challenges during this unprecedented time. The UAW is doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe and move forward in the best possible way to stem the spread of this terrible virus.
"I also want to, once again, thank those brave Americans on the front lines of this crisis, our health care workers, health and safety workers, essential workers, firefighters, police and security — everyone who is so courageously showing up to work to keep us safe and keep the nation going.
"I must ask again that we all try to remain calm, we all support one another and please, follow the stay-at-home precautions in your area to the extent that you are able. Please adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on protecting yourself and others from the virus.
"For more information, please see the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV) and UAW (https://uaw.org/coronavirus/). The UAW landing page includes an email for our members to ask questions. We are working diligently to provide you with the most up to date information.
“Again, we truly are in this together. Please support one another.”
How COVID-19 Spreads
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?
- Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.
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 & 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.
People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.