Chrysler-parent Stellantis and Ford will once again require face masks and General Motors will instate “protection measures” at facilities in southeast Michigan where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
The changes are to align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they come about two months after a COVID-19 task force made up of representatives from the Detroit Three automakers and the UAW announced that masks would become optional.
In recent weeks, however, the coronavirus picture has changed rapidly.
People in 16 Michigan counties are now advised to wear masks in indoor, public places because the counties are in the high-risk category based on the CDC data tracker, the Free Press reported on Friday. The levels, according to previous reporting, can range from low to high and are based on hospital bed use, hospital admissions and the number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
Stellantis, in a notice shared through a number of Facebook postings, highlighted its facilities in five of the high-risk counties — Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
The company provided a statement to the Free Press:
“Beginning Monday, May 16, company-issued face masks will again be required for employees, contractors and visitors at all facilities located within the five Michigan counties now classified as high risk of infection by the CDC. It is expected that the requirement will be in place for the next two weeks.”
Ford also issued a statement:
“The health and safety of our workforce is our top priority as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. We are temporarily reinstating a face mask requirement at all Ford facilities located in areas that the CDC has classified as orange/ high-risk due (to) increased COVID-19 cases which currently impacts Wayne, Washtenaw and Macomb counties.”
GM will add “protection measures,” according to a statement from a company spokesman:
“We will be implementing COVID protection measures at our facilities in Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties given the CDC has now listed them as high risk, and we are in the process of communicating that with our employees.”
It was not immediately clear whether the protection measures include face masks. A message seeking clarification was sent to the GM spokesman.
The COVID-19 joint task force made up of representatives from the UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis has met regularly to discuss protocols and procedures connected to the virus, according to a statement sent by a UAW spokeswoman.
“In March, we agreed to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and move to a masks optional policy for employees at U.S. facilities regardless of vaccination status, if those facilities are not in high-risk counties as identified by the CDC. If a facility is located in high-risk counties as identified by the CDC, they will require masking and physical distancing. Current changes to masking rules at some locations are a result of this policy,” according to the UAW.