Guest Opinion: Micron Utah VP: We all need to do our part

Guest Opinion

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Like all of us, I have watched in alarm as positive COVID-19 case rates have risen to unprecedented levels in Utah with record-breaking confirmed cases. In large part, this has mainly been driven by the return to school, but more and more, we hear that the rise in cases is due to irresponsible behavior. 

As a leader of 1400 Micron employees based in Utah, I feel the heavy weight of trying to keep our employees safe. Micron, located in Lehi for more than 20 years, has proved that it is possible to work safely during this pandemic. 

Micron was identified as part of the critical U.S. infrastructure, and unlike many companies, we have been able to continue operating our manufacturing facility in Lehi throughout the pandemic. To do this, we had to enact strong measures, based on scientific research, that exceeded CDC protocols. 

These include:

Requiring team members to wear three-ply surgical-type masks at Micron sites at all times, other than when eating or drinking

Requiring physical distancing at all times

Twice-daily temperature checks using thermal scanning stations

Daily health screenings 

Separating team members into two “teams” that work in separate areas

Prohibiting visitors

Installing over 35,000 square feet of plexiglass to protect team members in cubicles and lunch areas

Conducting contact tracing when positive cases are identified 

Suspending global business travel 

Adopting best practices for ventilation and HVAC systems

Strict quarantine and/or work from home requirements if team members engage in high-risk activities such as attending large gatherings where social distancing cannot be maintained or traveling by air, rail, bus, or sea 

The measures we’ve put in place at Micron may seem somewhat extreme to people who resist even the very idea of wearing a mask. But the results speak for themselves: of the less than 2% of our Micron team members who have tested positive for the virus, today, we have zero cases of spread at our Lehi site. 

Maybe not every workplace or school will be able to enact the same measures as Micron. But we have proved that it is possible to maintain a safe workplace environment even during a pandemic. 

What’s hurting us now is the lackadaisical, self-interested response from some community members, particularly in Utah County. Some resist the most basic of solutions: wearing masks and physical distancing. By focusing more on their perceived rights than on the responsibilities of good citizenship, these members of the community willfully endanger us all.

And it is hurting us. 

In recent weeks, we are seeing alarming numbers of essential team members and/or their family members exhibit COVID-19 related symptoms, keeping them in self-quarantine and preventing them from coming to work. Micron and other manufacturing companies need to have team members on-site to do business–no doubt this is the case for many other Utah industries. Keeping our team members safe is our #1 priority, and we have had to make significant financial investments to make coming in to work as safe as possible. 

We have a saying at our Lehi site: “No one has the right to work unsafely.” Like it or not, individual actions have a ripple effect that impact others. Your choice to not wear a mask or ignore social distancing, either from willful indifference or willful ignorance of the science, hurts our community and could have long-lasting impacts on our Utah economy. 

I urge you to be responsible and make the relatively small sacrifices needed to help stop the spread of the virus. Wear a mask. Distance from others. Let’s get through this as one Utah community. 

Dave Cheffings

Vice President, Micron Technologies Utah

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