Cummins Inc. is releasing as many of its office employees as possible in southern Indiana to work from home.
That’s a reaction to the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic. Jon Mills, spokesman for the company, explains that employees were told Friday that if they could work at home, they should.
“Friday afternoon, Tony Satterthwaite, our president and COO, sent out an email encouraging those who can work from home, to do so here in Indiana,” Mills said. “Most of the office facilities in downtown Columbus will be closed at the end of the day Monday, through April 6th, as a precautionary measure to try to protect the health and safety of our employees.”
Employees will be working with their supervisors to determine who can work at home, or who must come into an office, Mills said.
“Obviously, we have a wide variety of functions and (positions) to support global business,” Mills said. “Every single employee is equally as important. We just have differences in job functions and job duties that allow us a little little different work environment.”
The company is also taking measures to protect employees who must come in to work including manufacturing employees.
“We stepped up measures to ensure the facilities are receiving extra cleaning, making sure that sanitation is of the utmost concern for us right now, making sure that there are ample and available hand sanitizers, sanitation wipes, making sure we are communicating with the employees on how to protect themselves and the measures they can take,” Mills said.
“Our intent is to provide safe, secure, quality working environments regardless of where our employees are working,” Mills said. “And really to continue to make sure that their health and safety is our main priority, whether it is in downtown Columbus or whether it is in China. That has been our focus from the very beginning until now.”
“Obviously, this is really dynamic and continuing to evolve,” Mills said. “Our leaders are monitoring it on a daily basis in an effort not only to keep our employees healthy and safe, to work with our communities to do the same, and to continue to do our very best to serve our customers and to balance supply chain challenges as well.”
Cummins operates factories in Wuhan, China where the virus originated. Mills said those employees returning to Indiana from China were self-quarantined for 14 days and none have tested positive for the virus.
“Since the inception, when the COVID-19, the coronavirus, was found in China, we began to take steps to ensure that employees who may have even been in contact, may have traveled to affected countries or areas, would self-isolate for 14 days,” Mills said. “We have provided health and wellness checks, encouraged people to see their physicians. So absolutely, we are taking measures to ensure those employees are getting the care they need, first and foremost. But also in an environment that keeps them away and can combat the spread of the virus.”
Mills said that there are still travel bans and restrictions in place for Cummins employees.
“We continue to have travel bans in in and out of China, Italy, Korea as well as a global travel restriction,” Mills said. “That is for all commercial travel, whether it is domestic or international. That will be in effect until April 16th, but obviously we are continuing to monitor things and reassess the situation.
“What the global travel restriction means is don’t travel unless it is absolutely, absolutely critical to the business. We don’t need to put anybody at risk. Again, the main priority here is to keep everybody healthy and safe.”
Bartholomew County Health Director Dr. Brian Niedbalski said on Friday that there have been no positive tests in the county although two people have been tested so far. Statewide 20 people have tested positive as of Sunday night, according to the state health department.