Operations at all sites across the Puget Sound area will shut down on March 25 and last for two weeks, Boeing said on Monday. The company is the largest private employer in the state.
Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun called the move a “necessary step” that will protect employees and the communities they work and live in.
“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. We regret the difficulty this will cause them, as well as our employees, but it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Calhoun added.
The spread of the CCP virus is causing an unprecedented situation for companies and communities around the world, the CEO said.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
All Boeing employees were told to report to work on Monday to receive guidance on their roles in the coming days. Employees who can work remotely will continue doing so while others will get paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension.
Boeing said it would keep employees, customers, and suppliers updated as to when production is started back up. When the suspension, the company plans to “take an orderly approach to restarting production with a focus on safety, quality and meeting customer commitments.”
The company has around 70,000 workers in the Puget Sound region, representing nearly half of Boeing’s global workforce, the company said last year. Boeing said it spent more than $5 billion with nearly 2,000 suppliers and partners in the state, citing the most recent data available, which was from 2017.
Boeing previously said 18 employees in the Seattle area tested positive for COVID-19. About 1,000 others were self-isolating because of possible exposure.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, like a number of other governors, declared a state of emergency over the new illness. He ordered non-essential businesses to close in the state’s three most populous counties and for people to stay home except for essential trips.
A major cluster of cases centered around a nursing home in Kirkland, just outside Seattle, was identified last month and helped prompt some of the measures.
Washington has confirmed 1,996 cases, of which 1,040 are in King County. Seventy-five of the state’s 95 deaths are in that county. Half of the deaths come from those who were 80 or older.
The state has tested 30,875 people. Six percent of those tested have tested positive.
Experts say ways to avoid contracting the new illness include avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying at least six feet away from all people except for those they live with, and frequently cleaning their hands, especially after they’ve been in a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.