CORONAVIRUS

Collins Aerospace employee tests positive for coronavirus

Aviation company mandates telecommuting for all but 'business critical' work

Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Collins Aerospace has learned that an employee at its C Avenue facility in Cedar Rapids has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The employee has been quarantined off-site and will not return to work until cleared by a medical health provider and all symptoms are gone, according to a Sunday email to employees from Phil Jasper and Dave Nieuwsma, respective heads of the company’s mission systems and avionics business units.

Employees who were in proximity to the affected person — within six feet for more than 30 minutes — have been notified and required to stay home for 14 days, too.

Collins Aerospace on Sunday required all employees and contractors capable of working from home to start doing so, effective immediately, in agreement with their manager.

The company previously had allowed those employees to telecommute, but with the choice to continue coming to work after completing a daily self-assessment screening.

Its digital technology organization now is working to help employees get the equipment they need to work effectively from home, said Collins Aerospace spokeswoman Pam Tvrdy-Cleary on Monday.

Employees “critical to on-site business continuity, consistent with local regulations,” were asked to continue reporting to work, a company email said.

Collins Aerospace on Wednesday alerted employees that two C Avenue facility workers who were quarantined off-site after showing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, but who “did not meet public health guidelines,” were to be tested.

Tvrdy-Cleary said she could not confirm whether the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was one of those two presumptive cases or a third employee, citing privacy laws including HIPAA.

Collins Aerospace’s shift came as part of an adjustment of its global workforce plan, in response to and anticipation of government mandates, particularly in the United States and Europe.

In a Monday email to all employees, company President Steve Timm praised employees’ site-by-site adaptation under the pandemic, and said a healthy aviation industry will be key for the world’s economy to recover.

“What we do is essential to keeping countries around the world — safe,” Timm said. “The products and services we deliver have never been more important because our customers’ success — and our industry’s health — will ultimately determine our own.

“But know this: nothing comes before your safety. Nothing.”

Collins Aerospace’s pandemic response has included “around the clock” cleaning of facilities, including its lobbies, conference and huddle rooms, and elimination of some cafeteria options, including buffet and salad bar offerings.

“We’ve been through trying times before,” Timm said in his email. “I’m confident that the work we’re doing right now — and how we are caring for and about each other — will enable us, and our industry, to emerge from this pandemic strong.”

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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