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Boeing to suspend production operations in response to coronavirus

A plane in Boeing's Renton plant. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Boeing announced a two-week suspension of production operations in Puget Sound area facilities Monday in response to the spread of coronavirus in Washington state.

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This announcement comes one day after the news that a Boeing employee passed away due to complications from COVID-19. Boeing’s latest update reported 32 confirmed cases company-wide, 25 of which are employees based in Washington state.

A few Everett employees have spoken to and emailed KIRO Radio in the past week, citing concerns about working in close quarters that are not frequently cleaned, and not deep cleaned between shifts.

Production activities will start to be reduced Monday, but all employees are to report to their assigned shifts to receive further guidance. The suspension is set to begin Wednesday, March 25, and will last 14 days.

Boeing’s Monday news release states “these actions are being taken to ensure the well-being of employees, their families, and the local community.” The company said it will continue to monitor the situation, and will conduct deep cleanings at all impacted sites.

“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” said Boeing President and 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. 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.”

Any Boeing employees who are able to work from home will continue to do so, and those who can’t will receive paid leave for the 10 working days in the two-week suspension.

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“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.”

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement following Boeing’s announcement Monday, applauding the company’s action.

“I spoke with Boeing Commercial CEO Stan Deal early this morning. I applaud Boeing’s decision to implement an orderly shutdown and continue to pay its workers during this difficult time,” Inslee said. “Now is a time for bold actions like these, and we will continue to look at what can be done statewide.”

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