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Daily COVID-19 Updates: April 9

April 9, 2020
Bridgestone Plans Reopening Factories; Superior, 3D-Printed Swabs; 6.6 Million More Unemployment Claims

More dismal jobs data came out from the Department of Labor today, showing that 6.6 million people had applied for unemployment insurance in the last days of March and the first days of April. That number is 200,000 less claims than the previous week’s adjusted claims number of 6.8 million people.

The full economic impact of the coronavirus—and the quarantines undertaken to squelch it—is still unclear, as is the economic impact of the virus if it had been addressed more—or less—aggressively. Despite the negative impact of the virus, though, manufacturers have begun to plan for what comes after.

Lockheed Martin announced recently that they would hire as many as 5,000 new employees during the outbreak; Bridgestone Americas announced today that they would reopen all of their North American factories by the first week of May; and Philip Morris had declared that it won’t lay off any of their employees due to the virus. For some businesses, at least, the end appears to be in sight.

Jobs and the Economy

Bridgestone Americas has laid out a plan for its North American plants to return to production. The Nashville-based manufacturer plans to resume commercial tire production, Firestone industrial, and Firestone building product plants by April 13. Passenger tire plants and other North American facilities will all reopen by the first week of May or sooner. Read the full story here.

Philip Morris has announced that it will not layoff any employees for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak without cause. The cigarette and tobacco manufacturer also said it would give special awards of recognition to employers who stay at their usual work locations. Read the full story here.

6.6 million more American workers filed initial unemployment insurance claims last week, according to new data from the Department of Labor. Altogether, more than 16.8 million Americans have filed for insurance in the past three weeks as the labor market contends with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Read the full story here.

Manufacturing Technology Addressing the Crisis

Current COVID-19 tests employ a nasopharyngeal swab, a swab used to collect material from the back of the nose or mouth. But, like many products desperately needed to combat the virus, there is currently a shortage of swabs, and there’s some evidence that the current swabs being used are producing false negatives. In order to address the pressing problem, a collaborative effort led by a group of scientists and research institutions from the San Diego area has designed and tested a 3D-printed swab they say is more effective and less error-prone than the current model. Read the full story here.

The shortage of personal protective equipment has led manufacturers and medical professionals to come up with novel solutions. 3D Systems, in order to fill a stopgap need between compliant PPE and everyday protection, designed a 3D-printable Stopgap Face Mask that medical professionals can use when standard PPE is not available or in circumstances where full PPE may not be necessary. Read the full story here.

Chemical manufacturers who normally produce fuel-grade alcohol are turning to the Industrial Internet of Things and other high-tech solutions to pivot their operations towards making hand sanitizer specially designed to kill bacteria and viruses. IIoT and other Industry 4.0 technologies enable chemical companies like Eastman to rapidly model their systems and respond to changing circumstances efficiently. Read the full story here.

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