Ford Delays North American Production Restart Indefinitely (Christopher Smith)
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Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled in the U.S. since Ford announced tentative reopening plans five days ago.

Ford manufacturing in North America is now on indefinite hold due to the continual spread of Coronavirus. In a press release from March 31, the automaker announced it was suspending planned openings of certain plants in Mexico and the United States, with no new dates scheduled at this time. Instead, the automaker will focus on efforts to manufacture ventilators at its Rawsonville, Michigan facility starting the week of April 20.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners, and communities remains our highest priority,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”

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The news comes just five days after Ford’s previous announcement about opening its Hermosillo, Mexico plant on April 6 and select U.S. plants – including F-150 facilities – on April 15. It’s a stark indication of just how quickly the COVID-19 outbreak in North America is spreading; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 163,000 cases in the U.S. as of March 31. That’s nearly double the cases compared to March 26, when Ford announced its relaunch plan.

In the meantime, Ford is working with GE Healthcare to manufacture 50,000 ventilators by July, with the first run of 1,500 coming by the end of April. The Rawsonville plant will be staffed by approximately 500 paid volunteer UAW workers, assembling the ventilators while observing strict guidelines and oversight to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 exposure.

“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families, and our nation,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”

Source: Ford