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A "small number" of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., plant employees have recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and officials believe most of the employees contracted it outside of the plant, according to a media statement.

The plant continues to operate as normal, said Anne L. Roman, Cooper's vice president of communications and public affairs.

Roman said no further comment would be made beyond the media statement released Tuesday evening.

"A small number of people who work in our Texarkana plant have recently tested positive for coronavirus," Roman wrote.

"In all cases, we completed contact tracing to identify whom the individuals had been in close contact with, and who may have potentially been exposed, if anyone, and we have communicated with them. Additionally, through contact tracing, it is apparent that most of these cases were contracted outside of Cooper," she wrote.

The Gazette's inquiry into how many employees tested positive was not answered.

However, employees' health is a top consideration, according to Roman.

"Protecting the health and safety of those who work in Cooper facilities is our first priority at all times, and certainly during this unprecedented global pandemic.

"Cooper operates under a set of comprehensive health and safety protocols that include required employee/contractor health disclosures, social distancing and physical barriers, visitor restrictions, frequent and intense cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and equipment after every shift, professional disinfecting, requiring facial coverings in common areas and where social distancing is not possible, etc," Roman wrote.

"These protocols are in line with recommendations from Cooper's medical director, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

"We are emphasizing daily the importance of being vigilant at work and at home in following health and safety protocols, especially as the number of cases in our region have increased," Roman stated.

Late last week, Cooper announced an employee in its service center on State Line Avenue had tested positive for coronavirus. The store shut down over the weekend for cleaning.

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