Aerospace giant Boeing announced Monday it will temporarily suspend operations at facilities in Washington state as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation.
The temporary closure of the Puget Sound facilities will start March 25 and last 14 days, according to the company. During this period, Boeing will conduct "additional deep cleaning activities at impacted sites" and establish "rigorous criteria for return to work."
"This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live," said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun. "We continue to work closely with public health officials, and we're in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who are affected by this temporary suspension."
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The company said employees in the Puget Sound area who are able to work from home will continue to do so and that those who are unable to work remotely will receive paid leave for the first 10 working days of the suspension. The number is double the company policy and will cover the entire 14 calendar day suspension period, Boeing said.
"We will keep our employees, customers and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess the evolving situation," Calhoun said. "This is an unprecedented time for organizations and communities across the globe."
Twenty-four Boeing employees in the Puget Sound area have confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of Saturday, according to The Seattle Times.
One worker who was an inspector on the 787 Dreamliner at the company's plant in Everett and contracted the disease died this weekend, the Times reported. He had been with Boeing for 27 years, his brother wrote in a Facebook post prior to the man’s death, in which he asked the company to take action, the Times reported.
"Boeing Everett plant, please close your doors and shut down," the brother wrote.
Boeing shares were trading higher after being temporarily halted on the news.