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Some Mississippi furniture manufacturers suspending operations

By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

PONTOTOC • Thousands of furniture manufacturing employees will be idled in the coming days as the coronavirus continues its march.

On Sunday, Behold Washington CEO Lyle Harris said the company would stop production at least through Friday.

In addition, Southern Motion and Fusion Furniture said they would not open Monday. The companies said results came back positive for one employee on Saturday. He had last been at the Fusion plant Thursday. Southern Motion acquired Fusion last year.

“We have been taking every necessary precaution and following every protocol, including daily sanitizing and disinfecting that is being performed several times a day throughout all key areas of the building,” Southern Motion posted on Facebook.

“In order to properly assess the situation and to protect the health and safety of all of our associates, we made the decision to shut down operations on Monday, March 23 at all Southern Furniture Industries’ locations (Southern Motion, Fusion Furniture, Cushions to Go, Recline Design, and Premier Foam),” the company said.

The production schedule for the upcoming week and updates will be provided on Monday, it said.

Southern Motion employs some 2,100 people.

At Behold Home, Harris said the shutdown will remain in effect until Friday.

“We will reevaluate the situation on a daily basis and communicate when we will re-pen through our Facebook page and local news outlets. We are in the process of establishing a team that will be working to communicate with our employees and customers,” Harris wrote to employees. “My view is that it is only a matter of time before one or multiple cases are diagnosed in our workforce.”

Behold Washington employs some 300 people.

Harris said several employees have been tested and are awaiting results and some are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. No employee has yet tested positive for COVID-19, he said.

However, he said, “Our company leadership can’t sit idly by and wait for the results. In my view, we have a responsibility to each of our valued employees and we have a responsibility to the larger communities in which we live to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus. We have to stem the spread and social distancing and a proactive work stoppage of non-essential industry is the best and only path at this point.”

The plant shutdowns follow Franklin Corp.’s announcement Friday that it was stopping production through March 29 after an employee tested positive.

The company said they it will reevaluate the situation on Friday to decide how is best to proceed. Franklin employs about 900 workers.

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