AGCO closes building on Hesston campus due to COVID-19 cluster

Chad Frey
The Kansan

The Harvey County Health Department, in conjunction with AGCO Corporation, has confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Plant 1 of the AGCO facility in Hesston.

The cluster includes 23 confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. These individuals are isolating at home.

AGCO secured access to rapid-result antigen tests and was set to administer them to all remaining Plant 1 employees Friday.

“AGCO takes our responsibility for the safety and well-being of our employees, partners, suppliers and customers very seriously,” said Seth Beytien, AGCO Hesston site leader. “We will continue to follow the guidance of the local health department to prevent the spread of COVID19 in our community. Our thoughts are with all impacted employees and their families as we hope for a quick recovery.”

Entering into last Friday, the site had seen a total of seven cases since the pandemic began in March.

“The USW Union Board has been collaborating with AGCO throughout the pandemic to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all Hesston employees,” said Glenn Davis, president, USW Local 11228. “I feel confident that the steps we’re taking are appropriate and are in the best interests of everyone at the Hesston facility.”

AGCO suspended operations in Plant 1 at the end of its first shift on Tuesday after being notified that employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Plant 1 employees were advised to remain home until additional test results were received.

“We will follow the state and county guidelines to get people back to work as quickly and safely as possible,” Beytien said.

AGCO implemented several precautionary measures earlier this year, including routine daily disinfecting, temperature scanning, and dividers in many workspaces and break areas. AGCO’s policy at the Hesston plant requires all employees to wear face masks in all areas of its facilities at all times.

“Businesses have faced many challenges these past several months. They are providing essential goods and critical jobs, all while putting the health of employees first and foremost,” said Harvey County Health Department director Lynnette Redington. “We appreciate AGCO’s focus on workplace safety by implementing COVID-19 precautions throughout the pandemic.”

The cluster will be considered active until there are 28 consecutive days — two incubation periods — without positive cases.