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Daily Journal
     April 1, 2020      #47-92 KDJ
 

CSL Behring employee tests positive 

By Lee Provost
lprovost@daily-journal.com


BRADLEY — A production worker at CSL Behring has tested positive for the coronavirus and the entire workforce at the Bourbonnais Township-based manufacturing plant was informed Monday.

The company, Kankakee County’s top manufacturing employer, has a workforce of about 1,700.

The Journal learned of this situation through an anonymous communication early Tuesday morning. The infected employee, the Journal later learned through an interview, is a member of the Local 498C Chemical Workers labor union. The union represents about 700 workers.

Maureen Powell, CSL’s head of communications, confirmed the employee has contracted the virus and is following Kankakee County Health Department guidelines and will not return to work until fully recovered.

A designated “essential” infrastructure business during the pandemic, Powell said the government recognizes how critical the work done at the Kankakee site and other locations truly is.

“The medicines produced at our Kankakee site aren’t things that are nice to have. They aren’t discretionary items — people need them to stay alive,” she said. “People stricken with rare diseases and their families rely on us and the work we do to help them.”

Powell noted the company has put a number of measures in place to protect workers, including instituting enhanced hygiene and disinfecting protocols and limiting on-site visitors.

The core business of CSL is the development and large-scale manufacture of plasma-based therapies, recombinant proteins and influenza vaccines. CSL is the largest global provider of plasma-based therapies for chronic, life-threatening conditions such as hemophilia and primary immunodeficiency.

The Australian-based pharmaceutical company, however, recently offered its expertise to governments around the world to aid in the battle against COVID-19 through research and production of a vaccine to to battle the virus which has caused a worldwide pandemic.

The company said it would lend its expertise, technologies and facilities to help support rapid, scaled development of vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus.

The company also made the offer to the World Health Organization.

CSL Behring's letter to employees:

"A Kankakee CSL Behring employee has been tested and confirmed to have the coronavirus (COVID-19). This individual is receiving medical attention and is self-quarantined.

"We can confirm that our colleague has not been on the Kankakee site and has not engaged in-person with any employees since March 25, 2020. This person is following health authority guidelines, will not return to the site until fully recovered and we wish our colleague all the best in recovery. Persons identified as being in close contact have already been notified and are taking the necessary precautions.

"Safeguarding the health of our people continues as our top priority — including ensuring our facilities remain safe so that we can continue delivering on our promise to patients and public health as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

"While the Kankakee site continues to operate, we recognize that the COVID-19 situation is dynamic and requires flexibility. ...

"We recognize that learning a colleague has been diagnosed with COVID-19 is likely to cause anxiety. It is important to remain calm and stay focused. CSL takes the COVID-19 situation very seriously and we are monitoring this outbreak closely. We want you and your family members to remain safe and encourage you to follow all of our recommended precautions from local government and health officials."

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Lee Provost