Dart temporarily closes after worker tests 'presumed positive' for COVID-19 at Chicago plant

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Dart Container Company has taken steps to protect employees after a worker inside a Chicago facility plant was diagnosed as "presumed positive" for COVID-19, according to a company release.

The company announced Thursday they have halted production and will temporarily close it's Chicago facility for seven days. They plan to reopen on April 2.

Dart said they still have not received word of a confirmed COVID-19 test for any of the employees but are treating the case as a positive based on communications with doctors and hospitals.

"All 1,600 employees have been asked to self-quarantine at home for the next seven days to take them past the 14-day period of exposure, as the employee in question last reported to work on March 19," according to a press release from the company, adding that all employees will be paid for workdays missed.

"Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued no guidance to essential industries like ours as to how we should handle situations like this," said Dart Container CEO Jim Lammers. "But the health of our employees and their families is of utmost importance to Dart. Therefore, we felt the need to take this extraordinary step to temporarily halt production to ensure our workplace is safe for our staff."

Officials said the company will sanitize all common areas and high-touch-point surfaces even though the closure will negate contamination of surfaces. They are following guidelines that the virus can only live up to 72 hours, citing to the National Institutes of Health.

U.S. Homeland Security identified Dart as an "essential" business, so crews have continued to work in the midst of the virus outbreak across the United States.

The employee provided documentation from a physician of a "presumed positive" for COVID-19, the release said.

The company said although the employee was not given a test to confirm the diagnosis, Dart is treating it as a confirmed positive case.

RELATED: Chicago employee at Dart Container plant tests 'presumed positive' for COVID-19

Dart manufactures cups, plates, containers, lids and straws.

"We're open for business because our products help other essential industries keep food and drinks sanitary and people safe during this unprecedented pandemic," said Dart Container CEO Jim Lammers. "We're helping feed school-aged children, patients at hospitals and the frontline heroes who care for them, elderly residents quarantined in nursing homes, our neighbors who rely on restaurant delivery and takeout and many others.

The company said the employee has been placed under a two-week quarantine and will be able to return to work once symptom free, per CDC guidelines.

RELATED: 'Stay-at-home' order in effect in Illinois as COVID-19 cases rise to 753, with 6 deaths

"We continue to follow CDC and other pertinent guidelines for the health and safety of our employees, their families and our communities, as they are Dart's No.1 priority," said Dart CEO Jim Lammers. "We require employees to observe social distancing, suspended most meetings, communicated proper handwashing and hygiene information, enhanced and added to our sanitation procedures, and encourage employees to stay home if sick and notify us if they have coronavirus-like symptoms."

Dart also said it has temporarily closed the department where the employees worked to sanitize the area and they have been identifying products the employees had contact with to isolate them for at least three days out of an abundance of caution.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.