The container ship Ballenita is maneuvered by two tugs into the Port of Everett on Feb. 18 in Everett. So far, the new coronavirus has not had any adverse impact on the port’s operations. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The container ship Ballenita is maneuvered by two tugs into the Port of Everett on Feb. 18 in Everett. So far, the new coronavirus has not had any adverse impact on the port’s operations. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Businesses discourage face-to-face time, do extra cleaning

At Boeing, a sick worker prompted the company to send him and others home and scrub their work area.

EVERETT — Businesses in Snohomish County and across the Puget Sound region are canceling large group meetings, arranging for employees to work at home and limiting nonessential travel in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Virtual meetings and phone conferences are the new offices and boardrooms.

The Snohomish Health District recommended Thursday that gatherings of more than 50 people be avoided or canceled, and health experts are urging businesses to make arrangements for employees to work at home, if possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says companies should have contingency plans that include sick leave policies and safeguards consistent with public health guidance.

Even the Boeing Co. is cutting non-essential air travel.

Boeing

A worker on the 777 line at the Boeing assembly plant in Everett went home Wednesday night with flu-like symptoms, the company said. Another 10 employees who were in close contact with the man were sent home as a precaution. The Everett plant and campus employ more than 30,000 people.

In a memo to employees, a company manager said: “The employee did not need emergency care, but he has gone home and will contact his personal doctor tomorrow to follow up.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked about 10 teammates who were in close contact during second shift to also go home. The facilities team has begun cleaning the work area, again just to be safe.

In a statement issued earlier in the week, Boeing said it is “taking prudent measures to ensure the health and safety” of employees and families, including reducing face-to-face gatherings and limiting non-essential travel.

Like other organizations and large employers, Boeing said it plans to reschedule some events, use telecommunications when possible and encourage employees to take appropriate health and safety measures.

Port of Everett

Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett, said port officials are monitoring the situation, keeping in mind that the risk of infection is growing.

“Using the guidance of the various health departments and the Centers for Disease Control, we are preparing an infectious disease response and operational continuity plan so we are prepared in the unlikely event that our operations and/or offices are affected by this virus,” Lefeber wrote in a memo to port employees.

The seaport, which serves ships from Japan, Russia, China and Australia, has not been affected, port spokeswoman Catherine Soper said.

“So far we have not seen any adverse impact on our shipping activity, likely in part due to our cargo mix, which is mostly focused on high-value, heavy cargoes for industry vs. containerized consumer goods. We continue to watch this very closely,” Soper said.

The cargo mix includes aerospace components for the 747, 767 and 777 production lines at the Boeing wide-body assembly plant at Paine Field.

Naval Station Everett

Naval Station Everett employs between 3,000 and 4,000 military and civilian workers, depending on the number of ships that are tied up at the base.

”We’re reminding people of the guidance for basic hygiene,” Kristin Ching, public affairs officer, said Thursday.

Ching said precautionary measures such as event and meeting cancellation and social distancing practices are being discussed.

Premera Blue Cross

On Thursday, Premera Blue Cross announced that employees in Western Washington will be required to work from home beginning Monday through March 24. The Mountlake Terrace-based health insurance company employs about 2,000 workers in offices in Mountlake Terrace and Bothell.

Airport

Airlines are bracing for cancellations and a steep drop in bookings as people shun the risk of exposure through travel. Meanwhile, they are cleaning aircraft more thoroughly than usual.

Alaska Airlines, which operates 18 daily flights from the new passenger terminal at Paine Field, has begun enhanced aircraft cleaning between flights that are on the ground “longer than an hour at our hubs,” the Seattle-based carrier said in a blog post.

United Airlines this week said it plans to cut spring domestic flights by 10%. United operates three daily nonstop flights to Denver from Everett.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Twins Leslie Davis (left) and Lyndsay Lamb stage a house in Everett as seen on the second season of "Unsellable Houses" on HGTV. (HGTV photo)
Sold: Snohomish twins back for more HGTV ‘Unsellable Houses’

The makeover show’s 13 episodes feature Snohomish County homes, with decor items sold at new store.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
All eyes on Alice, the electric plane made in Arlington

If all goes well, Eviation’s battery-powered airplane will make its debut test flight later this year.

Snohomish County unemployment rate drops slightly to 5.6%

Washington added 16,800 jobs in August.

Report: Criminal indictment coming for former Boeing official

Mark Forkner was the 737 Max Chief Technical Pilot who is alleged to have lied to aviation regulators.

Bufeng Gao, owner of Qin Xi'an Noodles, receives a check from the Edmonds Chamber Foundation's Wish Fund outside of her restaurant that was burned in a fire on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After arson burns Edmonds plaza, 14 businesses need help

Plum Tree Plaza — a cultural hub for Asian Americans — burned in a three-alarm fire early Sept. 11.

Hand drawn vector illustration of bottle of red wine and two glasses. Abstract cartoon style isolated.
You voted: The best wine list in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, folks still have their favorites.

Boeing sells land for $200M in plan to shrink holdings

Boeing has sold 310 acres of undeveloped land next to its Frederickson manufacturing plant.

Washington August jobless rate was 5.1%; 16,800 jobs added

August’s rate was the same as July’s rate, and increased even as COVID-19 cases surge.

Boeing moving 150 jobs from Washington and California to Texas

The affected jobs are in the company’s global parts distribution unit.

Commercial Aircraft Interiors General Manager James Barnett stands in a warehouse aisle of 777 overhead bins at the company's new building on Monday, May 20, 2019 in Arlington, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
12 Snohomish County aero firms get $19M for job protection

The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection grants could save 2,280 Washington jobs for up to six months.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Despite the pandemic's damage to air travel, Boeing says it's optimistic about long-term demand for airplanes. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 that it expects the aerospace market to be worth $9 trillion over the next decade. That includes planes for airlines and military uses and other aerospace products and services. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Pandemic hasn’t dimmed Boeing’s rosy prediction for planes

The company is bullishly predicting a $9 trillion market over the next decade.