SEATTLE — Boeing is suspending operations at its Seattle area facilities due to the spread of coronavirus in the area, idling tens of thousands of aerospace workers.
At least 95 people have died in Washington state because of COVID-19, most in the Seattle area.
Operations would be reduced beginning Wednesday, the company said in a statement, and production would be suspended for two weeks.
“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” said Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun.
Boeing employs more than 60,000 people in Washington state.
The company said employees in the region who can work from home will continue doing so and those who can’t – like the tens of thousands of machinists who build airplanes – will receive paid leave during the shutdown.
“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.”
Boeing’s shutdown comes after a worker reportedly died of COVID-19. The Seattle Times reports that co-workers and a union official confirmed the death of the man, who worked in Everett. The newspaper said the employee who died was an inspector who had worked for Boeing for 27 years.
Boeing operates two huge commercial aviation production facilities in the Seattle area, one in Everett and another in Renton. Its Everett facility, north of Seattle, is the largest building in the world and produces airplanes like the 787 and 777. About 30,000 people work there.
Its plant in Renton, south of Seattle, produces the 737 line. About 12,000 workers help assemble planes there.