FCA worker in Indiana tests for coronavirus, but the plant will stay open

Reuters



Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Thursday that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at its Kokomo, Indiana, transmission plant, but the location will remain open.

The Italian-American automaker said the company placed the employee and his immediate co-workers and others he may have come into direct contact with in home quarantine. The automaker said it is “deploying additional sanitization measures across the entire facility, re-timing break times to avoid crowding and deploying social spacing.”

Fiat Chrysler is canceling all in-person meetings unless “business critical” and conducted meetings through video conferencing technologies. Automakers also have canceled non-essential travel.

Ford, meanwhile, said its plants in North America remain unaffected. General Motors spokesman Jim Cain said the Detroit automaker has not had any cases of the coronavirus in its North American plants yet, citing such measures as reduced travel and restricted entry to plants as helping.

How the No. 1 U.S. automaker would respond to a positive test would depend on the situation, he added.

“You do plan to operate with a certain amount of absenteeism, but every facility has a different operating plan,” he said.

The Fiat side of the FCA operation, meanwhile,  is temporarily halting operations at some plants in Italy and will reduce production rates in response to coronavirus in the country, the largest outbreak in Europe, a spokesman for the automaker said on Wednesday.

FCA said in a statement it had stepped up measures across its facilities, including intensive sanitation of all work and rest areas, to support the government's directives to curb the spread of the infectious disease.

"As a result of taking these actions the company will, where necessary, make temporary closures of its plants across Italy," it said.

The spokesman said affected plants were Pomigliano, Melfi, Atessa and Cassino, each of them halted for two or three days between Wednesday and Saturday.

FCA said that to allow greater spacing of employees at their workstations, "daily production rates will be lowered to accommodate the adapted manufacturing processes."

However, a source close to the matter said FCA did not expect an impact on overall production rates.

The source added that temporary closures were in no way linked to disruptions of auto parts supplies following anti-virus measures imposed by Rome all over Italy.