DETROIT — Two Fiat Chrysler Automobiles factory employees who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, a UAW spokesperson said Tuesday. They are the first U.S. auto plant workers known to have died after contracting the virus.
One of the employees worked at FCA's Ram pickup plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The other worked at a plant in Kokomo, Indiana.
It was unclear when the workers died.
The UAW spokesman did not have any information about the people and was unable to confirm whether they were the same two workers who were already known to have tested positive earlier this month at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and the Kokomo Transmission plant. An FCA spokeswoman, citing privacy reasons, didn't have any information to share.
"I want to extend sincere sympathies from myself and the entire International Executive Board for the families of two of our members ... who have lost their lives to this virus," UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement. "This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family."
Gamble said he knows that "so many of our friends and family members are scared and experiencing tremendous difficulties and challenges during this unprecedented time. The UAW is doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe and move forward in the best possible way to stem the spread of this terrible virus."
FCA closed all of its North American assembly plants last week through at least the end of the month. Shortly before doing so, it briefly shut the Sterling Heights plant after a worker there was found to have contracted the virus. Reports of a worker at Kokomo Transmission testing positive emerged March 12.
The deaths bring the number of FCA employees known to have died after contracting the virus to three. The automaker on Sunday said it was postponing work associated with test laboratories and pilot plants at its Auburn Hills, Michigan, headquarters. The move followed reports in Detroit's newspapers that a technical support worker there died after testing positive.