RAV4 Hybrid and worker Georgetown, Kentucky

Toyota's production line for the RAV4 Hybrid SUV in Georgetown, Ky. (Courtesy of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Toyota has extended the closure of its auto plants in the U.S., Mexico and Canada -- including its largest worldwide factory in Georgetown, Ky. -- for two weeks, to April 20. 

The company said in a statement Thursday that the move is "due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and significant decline in vehicle demand."

Toyota employs about 8,000 people in Georgetown, where it produces the Camry sedan and RAV4 Hyrbid SUV. 

While the company has been willing to pay workers for the missed time since the shutdown started this week, Toyota's latest statement says workers will have to use their paid time off or take unpaid time starting the week of April 13.

Kentucky first-time unemployment claims soared the week ending March 21 to more than 48,000, an all-time record. Toyota's move not to pay workers for the time off will likely lead to more claims in mid-April. 

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.