BATTLE CREEK, MI—A worker at DENSO’s auto parts assembly plant here died last week from COVID-19. An additional 17 other employees across the company’s five Michigan factories have tested positive.

With the assistance of the Calhoun County and Berry County health departments, the company has determined that all cases were contracted outside the workplace due to community spread.

“So far we do not have any known transmissions of COVID-19 in our Michigan facilities. Additionally, the one fatality was confirmed to be transmission in the community, not in the workplace,” says Bridgette LaRose, the company’s manager of corporate communications.

“We believe this is an indication our safety protocols are working, but if we ever find an incident of transmission in our facilities, we will surely take swift action to protect our associates,” she adds. “We also believe DENSO is an incredibly safe environment for our employees and believe we’ve gone above and beyond best practices.”

LaRose says 13 employees have tested positive at the company’s Battle Creek plant, out of the more than 2,900 employees who work work there. Eight of the cases were confirmed over the previous two weeks.

“We expect all employees to be vigilant with safety practices inside work and encourage them to do so outside of work, as well. Our No. 1 concern is our people,” she says.

DENSO employs nearly 5,000 people across its five facilities in Michigan. A third-party company has thoroughly cleaned and disinfected all areas where the diagnosed individuals worked or had prolonged contact.