While much of the state’s workforce has been told to go home, Louisiana’s chemical plant employees are still on the job producing good needed to fight the virus.   

Louisiana Chemical Association President Greg Bowser says the Governor’s executive order included the chemical industry in a list of “essential” businesses.   

“Part of the reason for that is what we make, a lot of the stuff we make are disinfectants and things that you would need at a time like this so you want to make sure that if at all possible they can continue to operate,” says Bowser.  

Life at the plants looks a lot different these days. Bowser says access to facilities is being limited, worker’s temperatures are being checked on entry, shift sizes are now smaller, and changes in lunch schedules 

“They kind of alternate their eating patterns. They have two different shifts that may have lunch instead of everyone having lunch or eating together. They are doing it in two different spots,” says Bowser. 

Despite having over 1,100 state cases, Bowser says so far they’ve only had two confirmed cases of COVID-19 infected workers, but both had limited contact with facilities during their infectious period.   

Bowser says they may still be in operation but the longer this pandemic goes on, the more the global economy will slow, which means it will take a financial toll on Louisiana plants.   

“We’re understanding that we could do dealing with this thing all the way through July or August,” says Bowser.  

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)