DES MOINES, Iowa—While confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose among employees at Bridgestone Americas Inc.'s Firestone agricultural tire plant in Des Moines, production there has "safely" continued, the company said recently.
As of May 26, there were 24 employees who had tested positive for COVID-19. The company said one of those cases occurred when the plant was shut down March 21-April 13. There were eight cases on May 1, when Tire Business last reported on this story.
"The well-being and safety of employees remains the company's most important value," Bridgestone said May 26.
"The Des Moines plant continues to operate on a regular schedule and in alignment with the latest safety protocol guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support a safe and healthy environment for employees."
The Des Moines plant, opened in 1945 by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., had its first employee test positive for the coronavirus April 23. At the time, the company said the employee was in home isolation, and all other employees who may have come into contact with the affected person were asked to self-quarantine and contact a doctor if symptoms arose. The company also went through a deep clean of any areas where the employee may have been.
The Des Moines plant employs around 1,050 and is rated at 4,000 tires a day. Other than saying production was on schedule, the company didn't elaborate on specific current production.
Bridgestone laid out its COVID-19 plan, an Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability Playbook, prior to reopening tire plants in mid-April. The plan included many things from enhanced cleaning measures to ongoing education to changes in the sick leave/absenteeism policy.
"The playbook has not changed, but we continue to maintain a steady cadence of communications to our employees, so they have a clear understanding of the safety measures in place, as well as actions they can take to promote a safe and healthy work environment for all employees," the company said.
"One of the biggest challenges is that we cannot keep employees from being exposed outside of work. Polk County has a high number of cases. Our challenge remains to keep teammates from being exposed from positive cases. We want to make sure we continue to give them information on the virus and how to prevent the spread as much as possible at work and at home."