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DuPont employees in Chesterfield work in fight against coronavirus

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 18:26:39-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Workers at the DuPont Spruance Manufacturing site in Chesterfield County have ramped up production of a material crucial for first responders and their fight against the coronavirus.

Vice President and General Manager of DuPont Safety John Richard said production of Tyvek material is up 20 percent in response to global demand.

Tyvek is a lightweight and durable fabric often made into protective suits. Tyvek is also used to wrap homes under construction and in packaging materials.

CBS 6 was invited inside the 500-acre plant on Jefferson Davis Highway for a behind the scenes look on Tuesday.

More Tyvek is made at the plant than anywhere in the world. The plant is operated 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

“Being able to work with frontline workers in response to this outbreak is what we do,” Richard explained.

Massive spools of Tyvek are shipped overseas where workers make the protective suits worn by first responders.

Courtney Lalich has been a performance engineer at the site for 12 years. She counts herself among the 1,800 DuPont employees and more than 500 contractors at the plant.

“I think everybody started realizing that what we do here matters,” Lalich explained. “We are protecting people all over the world, not just in China, but everywhere.”

Spruance is the largest DuPont manufacturing facility in the world, also making Kevlar and Nomex materials.

“When it’s aligned as something as global as this virus, it really drives it home -- you can make that connection if you couldn’t before,” area manager Jamar Davis stated. “It’s a scary situation, but we are glad we can help in any way we can.”

At least eight people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Virginia, according to announcements Tuesday from state and military officials.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Virginia health officials reminds individuals to take the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.