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Responding to COVID-19

It looked like Terrell Industries was going to escape the coronavirus pandemic – until one day last week.  

Not one of its staff or employees had been affected by COVID-19 since its spread to this country eight months ago. The 24 employees were busy turning out piecework for Morgan County manufacturers of refrigerators and other consumer products.  

Then, like a thief in the night, the virus made its appearance. One of the employees tested positive. Everything changed.  

The workers were sent home under a quarantine order and told they would have to remain off the job for 14 days. The plant faced a shutdown.  

“It was a shock,” recalled the plant manager. “There was no way we could shut down for 14 days and meet our commitment to our customers. We needed our employees but decided we’d have to remain open and rely on the staff and volunteers as fill-ins for them.  

George Knight – a self-employed religious writer, editor and member of Terrell’s board of directors – responded to a call for volunteers. Subsequently, he extended the call to me (his older brother) for help.  

It came at a good time, as I was taking a break from removing overgrown weeds and grass from my vegetable garden. 

I was seated at a table facing a box of white plastic washers and a bag of 300 black plastic bolts. My instructions were to slip the washer on the bigger end of the bolt and press hard. The bolts were packaged in a box and sealed for shipment to the GE plant in Decatur, where they will become a part of a refrigerator door.   

“It’s a little bit like bolting a scooter to the heel of a Georgia stock,” I told Bro after filling my first box. In both you use two hands, but this is simpler. To fix a plow, you need a hammer to tighten the nut on the bolt.”  

I was told my hands will get used to the work after two or three days, and the stockroom is well supplied with washers and bolts. My hope is that the devoted and hard-working staff and volunteer assistance can save the Terrell plant and keep it open for workers when they are able to return to work. 

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