General Motors halts manufacturing operations in North America amid coronavirus outbreak

General Motors has confirmed it is temporarily suspending production at all its manufacturing sites in North America amid the coronavirus emergency.

GM said it is beginning a "systematic orderly suspension" for all U.S., Mexico and Canadian manufacturing facilities and will last through March 30, though specific details weren't released. 

General Motors is the second of the Big Three to suspend operations at its factories amid the coronavirus outbreak, with Ford’s announcement also coming on Wednesday.

“UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today’s announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic,” said UAW President Rory Gamble. “This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motors' actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production.”

Details have not yet come of a closure from Fiat Chrysler, though sources were telling the Associated Press that all three automakers had agreed to shut down temporarily.

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

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

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 included 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.