Mass. Manufacturers Allowed to Reopen

Phase 1 of Gov. Charlie Baker's reopening plan includes manufacturing companies

NBC Universal, Inc.

Manufacturers in Massachusetts will be among the first businesses to reopen in Gov. Charlie Baker's plan.

In order for manufacturing companies to reopen, they have to adhere to workplace safety standards set by the state. Those regulations include social distancing, changes in staffing, hygiene protocols and disinfecting.

Despite those measures, there is a concern that as the doors open and workers return, coronavirus infections will spike.

"I think myself and many of my colleagues are very nervous about this idea of opening up this early without the right pieces in place," said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

NeuroLogica in Danvers never closed down due to COVID-19 because they make portable CT scanners, which are crucial to fighting the virus. The company has been working with a skeleton crew and the CEO, David Webster, says it has its own three-phase plan to bring back employees that goes beyond what the state is mandating. It includes social distancing, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, staggered arrival schedules and more.

"We provided everyone with a reusable thermometer that they can put on their head to check their temperature before they come to work in the morning," Webster said. "And we've installed thermal guns at the entrance so when they walk in, it gives a heat signature, and if it looks like they are too hot, we can sort of turn them around."

He says the company will keep a close watch as more people return and back off if it sees a problem. Webster feels NeuroLogica has a good handle on keeping the workplace safe.

"I think what it's going to come down to is when people are on their own and on the weekends and doing the things they do, do they practice individual accountability?" Webster said. "Do they do the right thing to avoid bringing the infection?"

And he says the key to that is making sure employees stay home if they're sick. But for that to happen, Webster let his people know they will get all the sick time they need if they come down with COVID-19.

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