KOKOMO, Ind. – Employees at a General Motors plant in Kokomo, Indiana are being trained in extensive screening, cleaning and other procedures that will be in place when production of Ventec Life Systems’ critical care ventilators begins.
“I have family all across the country, so (COVID-19) has impacted everybody that I know and love,” UAW Local 292 member Debbie Hollis said. “I’m grateful that I get a chance to do my part and be a part of something ... We are modern-day Rosie the Riveters.”
Hollis and the production team, which will grow to more than 1,000 men and women, including people who already work for GM and new hires from the Kokomo area, are also gaining exposure to Ventec’s ventilator.
“Every ventilator we build can help save lives, and GM’s global supply base and manufacturing teams, the UAW, and the Kokomo community are working with passion and unwavering commitment to get the job done,” said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president, Global Manufacturing. “People have moved mountains to help increase production of Ventec’s critical care ventilator and we are just weeks away from delivering these lifesaving devices. I have never seen anything like it in my career.”
Procedures are as follows
Arrival for work:
- Everyone arriving for work will be required to sanitize their hands immediately upon arrival and have their temperature checked with a non-contact thermometer before entering the job site.
- Everyone will work their shift wearing medical-grade protective masks, including masks produced at GM’s Warren, Michigan facility.
- There will be a 30-minute interval between shifts to allow employees to clean their workstations when they arrive and again before they leave.
- There will be signage throughout the facility reminding team members to practice social distancing.
- Each workstation will be manned by one person, and each workstation will be spaced at least six feet apart.
- Cleaning crews will clean and sanitize common touch surfaces such as door handles, as well as common areas, at least three times per shift.
- Initial production will begin with one shift, with second and third shifts added soon thereafter.
- Each shift will enter and exit through a different door to minimize social contact.
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.