FCA suspends production at Sterling Heights plant after employee tests positive for coronavirus

The morning after news came out that a worker at a Fiat Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights had tested positive for the coronavirus Covid-19, FCA has made the decision to halt production at the plant. 

Jodi Tinson, Communications for Manufacturing and Labor, says the first shift has been sent home Wednesday and the second shift was also told not to report. She says this decision to halt production was made “out of an abundance of caution for the health and welfare of the employees."

The plant worker who tested positive has not been in the building for over a week and is currently receiving medical care. Those who have come into contact with that person have been told to self-quarantine.

Late Tuesday night, shift workers at the plant also left the factory after getting the news about the positive test. The UAW said their understanding was that the shift didn't leave in a walk-out, but rather that employees were sent home so a deep clean could be done of the plant. Tinch also said Wednesday morning the shift left so that the building could be cleaned.

Either way, tensions are growing among autoworkers for the Big Three, as all have refused thus far to shut down their plants amid the coronavirus emergency.

RELATED: Track the spread of COVID-19 with our interactive map

Cases in Michigan as of Wednesday morning are at 65, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said gatherings need to be limited to 50 people or less. Yet thousands are still working among each other at the Big Three factories.

Also late Tuesday night, the UAW met with executives from the Big Three to discuss their options.

During that meeting, the UAW and the big three automakers agreed not to close manufacturing plants in exchange for new safety measures and an increase in adherence to CDC recommendations on social distancing in the workplace.

The agreement also includes rotating partial shutdowns of facilities, extensive deep cleaning of those facilities and equipment between shifts.

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Since the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Michigan on March 10, Gov. Whitmer has declared a state emergency, closed all schools, prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, restricted visits to hospitals and other facilities, closed public spaces such as theaters, bars, gyms and casinos, and limited restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders.  

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.