A worker at the GOJO Industries plant in Cuyahoga Falls where the popular hand sanitizer Purell is made may have the COVID-19 virus.
“While not a confirmed case at this time, we are working to do everything we can to support this individual’s well-being and the well-being of our entire organization,” GOJO said Thursday afternoon in a statement.
The Akron-headquartered company, one of the world’s largest makers of hand sanitizers, said it learned Thursday that a first-shift worker may have the virus. Purell and GOJO soap also are made at the facility at 3901 Lippman Parkway, off State Road.
GOJO said it “immediately took action to further protect the health of our team members at this location and [company officials] are in touch with the other team members who worked this production line about additional preventative guidance and isolation measures.”
GOJO did not provide information on what specific measures are being taken.
GOJO has ramped up production of Purell as demand soared amid concerns about the virus’ spread.
Purell and other hand sanitizers have sometimes been hard to find on store shelves as concerns about coronavirus have prompted panic buying of the product.
The privately held GOJO, with 2,500 employees, said in the statement issued Thursday it is an essential supplier to front-line healthcare workers, first responders, government facilities and critical infrastructure.
“Unlike companies making non-essential products, we do not have the ability to stop production,” the company said in the statement.
The company said it has taken proactive safety, cleaning and social distancing measures since the beginning of the outbreak, and it has beefed up those actions
“As public health officials have made clear, we are all only as healthy as the community around us at work and at home,” a statement said.
The company has said it is hiring at its plants in Cuyahoga Falls and Wooster. GOJO employs about 500 people in Wooster. It was not immediately known how many people are employed at the plant in Cuyahoga Falls.
On March 13, Cary Jaros, president and CEO of GOJO, issued a statement, saying “After becoming aware of the developing situation in China last December, we immediately activated our demand surge preparedness team and began significantly increasing production at our two Ohio manufacturing facilities and manufacturing facility in France.”
The 74-year-old GOJO, which makes a variety of soaps, sanitizers and disinfectants, invented Purell hand sanitizer, later selling the Purell consumer brand.
In 2010, it reacquired the brand from Johnson and Johnson, and GOJO then expanded the product line into schools, health care, food service and consumer markets.
Forbes said in an article earlier this month that GOJO has about 25 percent of the U.S. hand sanitizer market and generated $270 million in revenue in 2018, according to IBISWorld.