Trane Technologies and the United States Postal Service in Tyler are making adjustments as an employee from each institution tested positive for the coronavirus.
After an employee tested positive for the virus, Trane has made the decision to undergo a scaled down production, with a smaller, essential workforce through April 6.
“This is part of a wider effort across our Trane Technologies Europe (EMEA) and Americas organization to protect our people, while continuing to serve our customers. In other words, plants across our organization, not only Tyler, will be taking this same measure, although start dates vary,” a Trane spokesperson said.
A voluntary essential workforce following various safety protocols to prevent coronavirus spread will continue to serve employees. Production workers, who are not a part of that workforce, will stay at home and will be paid during the scale back period from a combination of company pay and government benefits, the statement read.
“We are grateful for the efforts of our voluntary essential workforce in Tyler, and the resilience of all of our people during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Trane said.
The employee who tested positive is counted as one of the Rusk County cases due to the employee’s place or residence, according to local health authorities.
On Tuesday, Trane employees were notified that a worker at the Tyler factory had tested positive for COVID-19. Northeast Texas Public Health District Public Information Officer Terrence Ates told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that Trane had in fact reached out about suspected cases as early as March 16.
Ates said that during a press conference at Tyler City Hall on Wednesday NET Health CEO George Roberts misspoke when asked if the company had reached out to health officials to alert them to suspected cases.
Ates said, in a statement, that when the nursing staff from Trane’s onsite clinic reached out, they were instructed to follow CDC and State Health Department protocols and have the employee receive proper care at a medical facility, which they did. The onsite clinic at Trane is not used to take samples of communicable diseases. NET Health was then updated when the test came back positive on Tuesday.
Trane told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that their local team has been in contact and forthright with NET Health.
The plant employs about 1,450 people, according to Trane. The company said people working in close proximity to the employee were notified and have been under self-quarantine. The spokesperson did not specify how many individuals that was.
Ates said that although companies are not required to report suspected cases of communicable diseases, NET Health would encourage them to do so.
Main Post Office
Despite an employee at the Tyler Main Post Office testing positive for the coronavirus, the United States Postal Service said in a statement that operations will continue and the risk for its employees is believed to be low.
Tyler Main Post Office is at 2100 W Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The statement said USPS is working to reach out to the local public health office and will follow any given guidelines.
Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated there’s no evidence of the coronavirus spreading through mail or packages at this time.
The World Health Organization states on its website that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low. Catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled or exposed to various conditions and temperatures is low as well.
USPS is following the recommended guidelines and strategies from the CDC to maintain the health and safety of employees, according to the statement.
As of Thursday, confirmed coronavirus cases in Smith County remain at 21, according to NET Health.
Cory McCoy contributed to this report.