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GM, UAW demand workers at Wentzville plant mask up again as COVID-19 cases rise

GM, UAW demand workers at Wentzville plant mask up again as COVID-19 cases rise

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Vaccination clinic at GM Wentzville Assembly Plant

A little more than 500 people registered for their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 at a drive-thru vaccination clinic on Friday, May 7, 2021, at the GM Wentzville Assembly Plant. The St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln county health departments teamed up with the Missouri National Guard to offer the first mass vaccination event in western St. Charles County to anyone age 16 and older. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Nearly 4,000 workers at the General Motors plant in Wentzville must resume wearing face masks and social distancing because of an increase in COVID-19 cases in the area.

In an alert sent to workers, the union told plant employees of the change Monday afternoon.

The alert read, “We have been informed by the company and UAW International that based on the severe upward trend of COVID cases in the surrounding areas all GM Wentzville Assembly Center employees will be once again required to wear masks upon entering the plant starting tonight with third shift employees.”

The notice said temperature screenings at the entrances will remain suspended.

GM builds the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups as well as full-size vans at Wentzville. Its third shift starts at 9 p.m. A GM spokesman confirmed the reinstatement of the mask mandate.

“After reviewing the COVID-19 case rates surrounding our Wentzville Assembly Plant, General Motors will reinstate the 100% mask requirement at this plant to provide an added layer of protection for employees,” GM spokesman David Barnas said in a statement. “The health and safety of our team members will continue to dictate our COVID-19 protocols.”

Barnas said the GM medical team will continue to monitor plant COVID-19 cases, community trends and CDC/OSHA guidance.

Southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas have had the nation’s largest outbreak of COVID-19 recently. It is driven mainly by the highly contagious delta variant. Officials warn it could keep increasing if vaccination rates stay low.

Wentzville is a state-approved vaccination site, and the plant has hosted multiple employee vaccination clinics. According to a plant flyer, GM had scheduled another clinic prior to the reinstatement of the mask requirement. It will be held on July 28, GM said.

A virus task force with representatives from Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) and the UAW said unionized autoworkers in the U.S. who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer have to wear face masks at work. That started on July 12.

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