Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled in the U.S. since Ford announced tentative reopening plans five days ago.

Ford manufacturing in North America is now on indefinite hold due to the continual spread of Coronavirus. In a press release from March 31, the automaker announced it was suspending planned openings of certain plants in Mexico and the United States, with no new dates scheduled at this time. Instead, the automaker will focus on efforts to manufacture ventilators at its Rawsonville, Michigan facility starting the week of April 20.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners, and communities remains our highest priority,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”

The news comes just five days after Ford’s previous announcement about opening its Hermosillo, Mexico plant on April 6 and select U.S. plants – including F-150 facilities – on April 15. It’s a stark indication of just how quickly the COVID-19 outbreak in North America is spreading; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 163,000 cases in the U.S. as of March 31. That’s nearly double the cases compared to March 26, when Ford announced its relaunch plan.

In the meantime, Ford is working with GE Healthcare to manufacture 50,000 ventilators by July, with the first run of 1,500 coming by the end of April. The Rawsonville plant will be staffed by approximately 500 paid volunteer UAW workers, assembling the ventilators while observing strict guidelines and oversight to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 exposure.

“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families, and our nation,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”

Source: Ford
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FORD FURTHER POSTPONES NA PRODUCTION RESTART TO PROTECT WORKFORCE

 
  • Ford is delaying its planned restart of certain North America plants to help protect its workers
  • In collaboration with GE Healthcare, Ford still is planning to produce an FDA-cleared ventilator at its Rawsonville Components Plant beginning the week of April 20, supported by paid volunteer UAW workers
  • Ford and autoworkers’ unions – especially the UAW – are working closely on initiatives to keep the workforce safe, including upgrading social distancing guidelines, requiring the workers to self-certify daily that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms – and more

DEARBORN, Mich., March 31, 2020 – Ford is delaying the restart of production at its North America plants to help protect its workers. The company had been aiming to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant and April 14 at several key U.S. plants – and now has further postponed startup dates, which will be announced later.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, North America. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”

Rawsonville Components Plant will restart the week of April 20 to produce the Model A-E ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, supported by paid volunteer UAW workers. The Model A-E ventilator is a basic, cost-efficient design that addresses the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Production will quickly scale up to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 4 – helping to meet the growing demand in the U.S. Approximately 500 paid volunteer UAW workers will be building these ventilators. At this time, ventilator production will be the only work being done at the Rawsonville plant.

“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”

When Rawsonville Components Plant begins production of ventilators, the workforce will notice additional health measures in place. Workers will have to self-certify online every day that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they will not be allowed to work. Work stations will be spaced at least six feet apart to maintain proper social distancing. Shifts will be separated so there is no contact between workers in the different shifts.

Ford and the UAW are also working on several high-tech solutions to help keep our workforce safe.

As developments unfold, we will share additional details.