A Boeing worker who came down with the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus has died, the first death among the infected employees.
Co-workers and a union official who confirmed his death said the man was an inspector who worked on the 787 Dreamliner in Everett.
The Seattle Times is not naming him until his family is informed. Boeing said in a statement it is “taking the right steps to confirm the information while respecting the individual’s and the family’s privacy.”
The man’s job was to oversee unfinished work that had traveled out from the factory to the flight line.
He was also a shop steward in the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union.
On Saturday, while he was still in intensive care, his brother posted a plea to Boeing on Facebook.
“Boeing Everett plant, please close your doors and shut down,” his brother wrote, adding that the man had worked at Boeing for 27 years.
“My brother is on life support. Please pray for him and all affected by the virus,” he concluded.
In a subsequent post, he said his brother had died.
As of end of day Saturday, there were 29 confirmed cases among Boeing employees company-wide, 24 of those in the Puget Sound area and 5 out of state. The local tally is 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Everett, 5 in Renton, 1 in Auburn and 1 at the local headquarters in Longacres.
That was up from 20 confirmed cases company-wide at the end of day Thursday, with 18 in the Puget Sound area and two out of state.
Many workers in the Everett plant have been expressing anger at management for keeping the factory open as coronavirus infections have risen.
Some workers who fear for themselves or loved ones have chosen to stay home without pay. Others have stayed on the job because they depend on the paycheck, and for that reason the union has refrained from calling for a shutdown.
On Sunday, the news that the flight-line inspector had died was disseminated on a private Facebook group for Boeing workers.
One co-worker on the same flight line crew posted there that the man had died Sunday morning. “Really enjoyed working with him. He will be missed,” she posted.