The German agribusiness giant Bayer AG has temporarily closed two locations in Missouri and two in New Jersey due to concerns that an employee may have contracted the new coronavirus.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Bayer learned Sunday an employee in Creve Coeur, Missouri, was “considered a person under investigation for coronavirus infection,” and sent an email to employees that night. The case remains unconfirmed.
Cleaning is underway at the Creve Coeur campus, which is Bayer’s North American headquarters for its Crop Science Division, as well as at the nearby downtown St. Louis office of its tech-focused subsidiary, The Climate Corporation. In New Jersey, the closures are affecting Bayer’s campuses in Whippany, which is the company’s U.S. headquarters for all of its divisions, and in Morristown.
Bayer said its Creve Coeur site will remain closed until further notice, and provided no information on how long any of the other campuses will be shuttered.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
Bayer described the closures as a “proactive measure, out of an abundance of caution.” The company didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment from The Associated Press.
So far, Missouri has one confirmed case. A woman in her 20s who had been studying in Italy tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home to the area, St. Louis County officials announced Saturday.