Whirlpool temporarily shutters Amana plant after employee's positive COVID-19 test

Door panels move down a conveyor belt for installation at Whirlpool's Amana in Amana in this 2014 photo. (The Gazette)
Door panels move down a conveyor belt for installation at Whirlpool’s Amana in Amana in this 2014 photo. (The Gazette)

Whirlpool Corp. temporarily has closed its Amana refrigerator plant Tuesday evening after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The patient has not been in the plant since March 17, but reported close contact with one other employee, who also was sent home, a company spokesman said.

“The health and safety of our employees and the Amana community is our top priority, and out of an abundance of caution we are temporarily closing the Amana facility effective immediately,” the spokesman said Wednesday.

“While the facility is closed, we can continue to further assess if any individuals may have come into close contact with either of the two employees, in addition to performing a precautionary deep cleaning of the facility according to (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.”

A date for reopening the Amana plant has not yet been determined, the Whirlpool spokesman said.

Whirlpool employs more than 2,500 people in the Corridor area, at facilities in Amana and North Liberty, according to the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.

In a release Monday, Whirlpool outlined its COVID-19, or coronavirus, response, which the company said includes taking action to increase distances on production lines, slowing or reducing lines if necessary, implementing temperature screening protocols for employees, and emphasizing proper hygiene in plants.

Employees able to work from home are required to do so, the release said, and those exposed to COVID-19 or living with others under a medically advised quarantine are required to sef-monitor at home for 14 days.

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