An employee at GE Appliance Park in Louisville has a probable but unconfirmed case of coronavirus. According to a release from the company on Tuesday evening, the employee is under quarantine, and the company is notifying anyone who was in close contact with the worker, and asking them to stay at home.
GE spokesperson Wendy Treinen said any employee who is asked to self-quarantine will be placed on temporary “lack of work” status and therefor will be able to apply for unemployment benefits. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will have access to short-term disability benefits.
GE Appliance Park just reopened on Monday after having been closed for a week to implement safety measures and deep clean the facility. On March 28, employees held a protest asking for hazard pay and other accommodations. When they returned to work on March 30, some said they still did not feel safe at work.
Now the company says Building Three at the appliance park will close for 48 hours while high traffic areas are cleaned. According to the release, no work will be performed “in the affected area of the building” for the next 14 days.
After GE’s announcement, we talked to an employee named Alexandria, who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her job. She works on refrigerator parts.
“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will spread,” Alexandria said. “If we’d been able to stay home even an extra week, we could have helped to flatten the curve, like the governor always says. All we want them to do is really make the changes they say they are going to make and show that they actually care.”
GE did not name the affected employee.
In a letter to union members on March 31, IUE-CWA Local 83761 President Dino Driskell said he was in quarantine awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Driskell said he had been coughing for a few days and running a fever since the day before.
Reporter Eleanor Klibanoff contributed to this story.
This article has been updated to add comments from GE spokesperson Wendy Treinen.