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Ford to reinstate mandatory face masks at Louisville plants amid COVID-19 concerns

Ford to reinstate mandatory face masks at Louisville plants amid COVID-19 concerns

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Ford to reinstate mandatory face masks at Louisville plants amid COVID-19 concerns

Disney, Vegas, Apple are among those requiring new mask mandatesMask requirements return to many vacation spots, work places and schools.Staff Video, USA TODAYLOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of Louisville’s largest employers is once again requiring all its employees, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks amid increasing COVID-19 case counts in the region.Ford Motor Co., which employs about 12,500 between its two Louisville manufacturing plants, will require that all employees wear face masks at the two plants — the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant — starting on Saturday, according to an internal memo sent to workers.”Based on the latest state, local and internal data trends, Ford is adjusting our face mask protocol for all Ford facilities in Kentucky,” the memo reads.The memo said all employees, visitors and vendors must follow the protocol, “regardless of vaccine status.” It also notes “Ford continues to encourage team members to get vaccinated.Recall issued: Dog food sold nationwide recalled due to potentially high levels of aflatoxinRacking up debt, not budgeting: 4 money blunders new graduates can’t afford to makeFord Motor Co. spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed the memo’s information Thursday and said “the health and safety of our workforce continues to be our top priority.””With a data-driven approach to our global COVID-19 protocols and the increase in cases in specific U.S. regions, Ford is reinstating face mask protocols in select states,” Felker said. “In the near term, face masks will again be required for all employees and visitors in our Kentucky, Missouri and Florida facilities. We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case data to make further protocol changes.”She added: “In addition, based on the recommendations by the CDC, Ford will now require U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to any international business travel due to the potential of increased exposure to COVID-19. Ford continues to strongly encourage all team members who are medically able to be vaccinated.”According to Felker, the universal face mask policy went into effect in summer 2020, and it was updated on July 12, as the requirement was lifted for vaccinated individuals.When asked how many new COVID-19 cases Ford has seen at its two Louisville plants over the past week, Felker declined to answer and said that the plants are “a reflection of the communities in which they are located.”As for if the mask policy will be reinstated at Ford plants in additional states, Felker said the company “will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case data and make further protocol changes in other locations where the data indicates it is necessary.”The new policy by Ford comes two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that anybody who is in an area of substantial transmission (50 to 100 new cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period) and high transmission (100 or more per 100,000 people over seven days) wear a mask indoors.This federal guidance applies to 107 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, including Jefferson County — the location of Ford’s two Louisville plants.Herb Hibbs, the building chairman for United Auto Workers Local 862 at the Louisville Assembly Plant, said in a video posted Thursday that COVID-19 cases in the Louisville Assembly Plant have been increasing.”If you haven’t got the vaccine, please try to reconsider and get the vaccine,” Hibbs said. “… With this delta virus going around, we don’t want to see anybody in the UAW members or anybody get infected with a delta virus.”Hibbs said masks will be located at all entrances for employees to pick up, and their supervisors should have additional ones.Follow Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Ben Tobin on Twitter @Ben__Tobin.


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