Altria's (MO) - Get Altria Group Inc Report Howard Willard is the latest big name to contract Covid-19, with the cigarette giant disclosing Friday its CEO and chairman was taking a temporary medical leave as he battles the deadly virus.
William Gifford, the company's chief financial officer, will take over Willard's responsibilities during his leave, the company informed the Securities and Exchange Commission in a regulatory filing.
The 56-year-old Willard joins a growing list of high-profile people who have contracted coronavirus, from A-List actors like Tom Hanks to sports stars like Kevin Durant to lesser known CEOs like Cedric Francois, CEO of Apellis Pharmaceuticals.
The virus' global death toll now tops 10,000, with more than 245,000 people infected, including a rapidly growing number in the United States.
Altria, owner of Marlboro maker Philip Morris, said it is also temporarily was suspending work at its manufacturing center in Richmond, Va., after a second employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
The shutdown is slated to last for two weeks, though the company said it "will continue to monitor the evolving situation."
Philip Morris has enough cigarette inventory to last two months, Altria noted in a press statement, in addition to retail and wholesale inventories.
The corporate giant's cigar maker, Middleton, has enough cigar inventory for three months, Altria said.
Philip Morris and Middleton will continue paying employees their regular base wages during the two-week shutdown, and "will evaluate providing additional pay continuation beyond that timeframe as needed, " Altria said.
Shares of Altria rose 1.35% to $37.58 a share in premarket trading on Friday.