The coronavirus continues to run rampant through the country, state and even here in Clark County.
I spoke with Trevor Wuethrich, President of Grassland Dairy Products, and he discussed some of the impacts Cummins workforce has seen due to COVID-19.
Question: “How has the recent increase in coronavirus cases affected things at Grassland Dairy Products?”
Trevor: “Luckily, back in March, we took it rather serious. We did social distancing and set up parameters in the plant to have breaks where we social distance. And, of course, we’re wearing the PPE, the face masks and washing the hands, which we’ve done even before corona. So, early one, we did really well. We were able to produce butter for the consumers and keep the stores shelved. More recently, community spread has been a concern. We’re still practicing social distancing, still doing everything great, but, obviously, we’re getting community spread. And, I think, since March, we’ve had close to a third of our employees test positive for corona. But, it’s been a struggle, recently, within the last couple weeks as far as keeping departments fully staffed. But we’ve never had to shut down a line or a department because of it. We’ve been lucky. If we had an outbreak, recently, it’s been dispersed throughout the plant, not just in one particular department, so we’ve been able to stay operating.”
Question: “If things continue to go the way they are, how do you see that affecting operations there?”
Trevor: “Well, on the bright side, 30% of the employees have had it. I would guess a percentage is asymptomatic and/or immune to it. I think, just based on how it feels around here, we may be on the downside of the curb, just at Grassland. That’s my hope. That’s the plan, hopefully, but we’ll see.”
Question: “What would you like everyone to know?”
Trevor: “Well, like I said, we’ve done everything we can here to keep everybody safe. The issue is the community. It’s practicing social distancing and, if you can, wear a mask and to maintain proper hygiene. That seems to be effective, so that’s all we can ask for.”
Questions: “Do you have any other concerns? Especially with the holidays coming up?”
Trevor: “Well, again, I think we’re through it. It just feels like we’re through it here. Around 4 weeks ago, we had a major outbreak here. But we made it through. It just feels like we can’t get any worse than this. But, that being said, it potentially could, and we just have to battle everyday and make sure we can get the product through the plant. That’s been an anxiety the last nine months as far as you can only plan for the worse and hope for the best and that’s kinda what we’re doing.”
Question: “Do you have anything further?”
Trevor: “I just wanted to thank our employees. I think everybody here at Grassland has done a phenomenal job of staying healthy and maintaining that discipline here at the workplace. Our greatest fear here was we would potentially have to shut down. And we planned for that by producing product ahead in the summer with the assumption we may have an outbreak here and actually have to shut some lines down. But we made product ahead for the holidays with that assumption. And we haven’t had to do that. It’s been a lot of planning. Again, planning for the worse, but hoping for the best and I think it feels like we’re out of the woods a little bit. But, again, we’ll wait and see.”
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.