DES MOINES, Iowa—Bridgestone Americas Inc. has confirmed that an employee at the company's Des Moines, Iowa, ag tire plant has tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a statement to Tire Business, the company said it received confirmation of the positive COVID-19 test on April 23, and the employee is in isolation at home.
"We remain in contact with the employee and all employees at the facility to provide clear direction and ensure their safety regarding this matter," the company said.
Bridgestone restarted production at its North American commercial tire plants—including the Des Moines plant—as well as its North American Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products factories on April 13.
Also, Bridgestone Bandag's tread rubber plants in the U.S. resumed operations the week of March 29, due to demand by its retreader customers, the company said.
"We were prepared for this and are following our rapid response plans developed through our Enterprise Crisis Management Team," the company said. "This team has been monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and consulting federal, state and local officials, as well as health organizations to coordinate risk mitigation and business continuity strategies."
When the plants were restarted, Bridgestone put in place a number of safety initiatives, including enhanced cleaning measures, increased employee education, changes to the sick leave policy, a redesign of common spaces, screenings for employees returning to work, temperature screenings and the use of face masks.
Bridgestone did not elaborate on the access the infected employee had with other employees, though it did say that all employees who may have come into contact with the affected employee have been notified and directed to self quarantine for 14 days and contact a health care provider if they show symptoms.
"Out of an abundance of caution and to help ensure the continued safety and well-being of our employees, Bridgestone Americas did a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the area of the facility where the employee worked," the company added.
"Our most important priority is to ensure the well-being and safety of our employees and the integrity of our operations. ... We continue to monitor the situation closely and will adjust our response plan and activities, as necessary, in order to ensure the well-being and safety of our employees."