Continental's Sumter plant will shut down 2 weeks in midst of COVID-19 crisis


As the economic crisis associated with COVID-19 continues to take shape, Sumter's largest private-sector employer has decided to temporarily shut down operations for two weeks.

Sumter Economic Development Board Chairman Greg Thompson confirmed the announcement with The Sumter Item late Tuesday.

Just before 6 p.m., a Columbia media source reported it had received a statement from the tire manufacturer on a temporary shutdown.

Thompson told The Sumter Item that he spoke to a plant official, who confirmed the two-week shutdown. He said the suspension of operations is out of precaution in the wake of the coronavirus and not because of any confirmed cases at the plant.

The news comes as several other major production companies in the state, including Boeing, Volvo and BMW, have announced plans to temporarily suspend work at their plants.

Continental is a leading supplier of tires to car manufacturers. State Department of Employment and Workforce officials have confirmed in the last week that laid-off employees in temporary shutdowns associated with COVID-19 are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, if they are not receiving wages from their employer.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. But for some older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. More than 100,000 people have recovered.