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Ford to offer COVID-19 tests to symptomatic workers in four key states

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Ford Motor Co. on Saturday said it will offer COVID-19 tests to hourly and salaried employees with suspected symptoms in four key states as thousands of workers prepare to return to the job on Monday.

The automaker said it’s partnering with local health systems in southeast Michigan and metro areas around Louisville, Ky., Chicago, and Kansas City, Mo. It said test results should be available within a day.

“Fast and accurate testing is a key tool in the effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Walter Talamonti, Ford’s medical director, said in a statement. “These contracts will allow us to test employees with suspected symptoms and have results back within 24 hours. If they test positive, we can quickly identify close contact employees who may have been exposed and ask them to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

Ford said it’s utilizing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which identifies if someone is actively infected. The PCR tests detect the presence of viral RNA, not the presence of the antibodies, which are the body’s immune response.

General Motors offers in-plant testing at most of its manufacturing facilities in cases where it’s medically necessary, according to a spokesman. Some smaller sites without in-plant capabilities would refer workers to nearby test centers. 

Ford late last month said it would not have testing available for its entire workforce by the time most North America factories reopen May 18, but it’s working to offer that in the coming months.

Testing for symptomatic workers is the latest measure Ford is taking as it reopens its manufacturing facilities. It recently published a return-to-work playbook details safety guidelines including mandatory masks, temperature scans and health questionnaires for employees as well as changes to factory lunch areas and work stations to account for social distancing.

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