Fincatieri Marine Group, a shipbuilder in Marinette, is reporting daily updates of confirmed coronavirus cases among its workforce. "We feel we owe our community timely and factual information," a company spokesman said. (Photo courtesy Fincatieri Marine Group)
Fincatieri Marine Group, a shipbuilder in Marinette, is reporting daily updates of confirmed coronavirus cases among its workforce. "We feel we owe our community timely and factual information," a company spokesman said. (Photo courtesy Fincatieri Marine Group)

Web tracker gives out specific details about how the infection is spreading at Marinette shipbuilder

Fincatieri Marine Group, a shipbuilder in Marinette, has bucked the trend of companies being opaque about how coronavirus is affecting their workforce.

A Navy contractor, Fincatieri is continuing operations as an essential business. The company set up a webpage dedicated to its COVID-19 response that details how many employees have contracted the virus, when they contracted it, in which building the employees work, and when their last day was.

This stands in stark contrast to how meat processing companies in nearby Brown County and throughout the country are handling outbreaks at their facilities. JBS and American Foods Group, which have plants in Green Bay, have left many questions unanswered and have relied on the health department to give updates.

Four Fincatieri employees have tested positive for coronavirus, according to figures updated daily. Three of them are in one building. Their last days at work were April 17, 20, and 24. An infected employee in another building on company grounds stopped working on April 21, according to the website.

“The virus hasn’t been so prevalent in northeast Wisconsin, but don’t take the guard down,” Fincatieri Marine Group CEO Dario Deste said in a video message to employees.

The company announced its first case on April 23. At least a dozen employees who had contact with infected workers are in quarantine, the Associated Press reported.

“As we all deal with this public health emergency, we feel that we owe our community timely and factual information about how we are dealing with it,” Eric Dent, director of communications for Fincatieri, wrote in an emailed statement. “We believe this is an imperative to being a solid community partner.”

The company says it is allowing employees to work from home if possible, is disinfecting multiple times per day, adjusting shifts, and is using machines to filter the air to kill potentially harmful particles. It is also distributing daily health updates through email, flyers, and closed-circuit television at the shipyards, according to the website.

Workers at several Green Bay-area meat plants say there are unsafe conditions and allege companies were slow to respond to the outbreak to keep employees safe. JBS has 290 coronavirus-positive employees out of a workforce of 1,200. American Foods Group has 179 infected employees.

OSHA is investigating both companies’ Green Bay operations.

“When companies aren’t willing to communicate, rumors and fear may impact public trust and our credibility,” Dent said. “We aren’t perfect, but we are committed to keeping our workforce, their families and our communities as informed of our activities as possible. Perhaps other companies have reasons to approach this differently, but that just doesn’t work for us.”

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said he was pleased with how Fincatieri was handling the situation.