DES MOINES, Iowa — Eight employees at Bridgestone Americas Inc.'s Des Moines agricultural tire plant have tested positive for COVID-19 as of May 1, the company confirmed to Tire Business.
"We are taking every precaution, including thorough disinfection and self-quarantine of any employees who came into contact with a (COVID-19) positive employee," Bridgestone said.
The company said it is mitigating the situation using protocols it put into place to respond to such an event before production at the plant — which employs 1,050 at last reporting — was restarted April 13 along with other North American commercial tire plants as demand for agriculture and farm-related tires and commercial truck tires was reported up for the "essential" industries.
The company said this included truck tire plants in Warren and La Vergne, Tenn., as well as OTR tire plants in Aiken County, S.C. and Bloomington, lll.
The Des Moines plant, opened in 1945 by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., had its first employee test positive for COVID-19 on 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.
"We were prepared for this and are following our rapid response plans developed through our Enterprise Crisis Management Team. 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," the company said.
"We developed an Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability (EHSS) Playbook that outlines all of the measures that must be taken to promote teammate safety before production can resume at any of our plants," Bridgestone said. "This playbook guided the restart of operations at the commercial plants and will be used to resume operations at the passenger tire plants in North America."