April 3 (UPI) -- Boeing announced this week that it is suspending operations in the Philadelphia area for two weeks due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A press release from the company issued late Thursday said the company would suspend production of the H-46 Chinook cargo helicopter, the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter, as well as other defense and commercial services work performed at the site.
A Boeing spokesman told Defense News Friday that "we have had positive test results for Boeing Philadelphia employees," but declined to comment further.
According to the release the company will "conduct additional deep cleaning activities at buildings across the site and establish rigorous criteria for return to work" before reopening April 20.
The company also said employees who can work from home will continue to do so, and those who can't "will receive paid leave for the 10 working days - double the normal company policy."
"Suspending operations at our vital military rotorcraft facilities is a serious step, but a necessary one for the health and safety of our employees and their communities," Steve Parker, a Philadelphia site senior executive for Boeing, said in the statement. "We're working closely with government and public health officials in the tri-state region. We're also in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders affected by this temporary suspension as we assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19."
On March 23 Boeing announced it was shutting down factories in Washington state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seattle area, where much of Boeing's production is centered, saw one of the first significant outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States, and several Boeing employees tested positive for the virus before operations were shuttered.
On March 20 the Pentagon's undersecretary for acquisitions sent a memo to defense contractors describing defense contractors and their suppliers as "critical infrastructure" and urged them to keep working amid the virus' spread.
This week the Navy's Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition told reporters the branch is awarding some large contracts earlier than planned in order to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the industry.
Citing, among other examples, a $1.6 billion deal awarded to Boeing Tuesday for P-8A Poseidon aircraft, James Geurts said the Navy is moving quickly on big deals in an effort to encourage contractors to pay their suppliers sooner than later -- and in hopes they'll be ready to get right back to work following periods of disruption.