The worst of the coronavirus outbreak appears to be past. Now, according to the nation’s elected officials and top medical professionals, comes the difficult question of how to re-open the country without allowing the virus to spread out of control once again.
“The worst is over, if we continue to be smart going forward,” said New York Governor of Andrew Cuomo. In a conference call with the press, Cuomo and the governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island said they would coordinate efforts to reopen businesses and schools. Cuomo’s remarks echoed Dr.
Several large manufacturers are making their own moves, as well. Last week, Bridgestone Americas, said they would open some of their North American plants on April 13. Boeing, according to Portland Business Journal, said in a company email that they would resume work on certain defense projects in its Washington-state plants on the same date. And Ford, alongside its preliminary first-quarter 2020 earnings report, said it was currently considering a scenario for a “phased restart” of its American manufacturing sites.
Cleveland-Cliffs to Suspend Production at Two Mines
Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. announced that it would idle two iron ore mining operations in Minnesota and Michigan today based on plunging market conditions caused by the COVID-19 virus. Northshore Mining in Minnesota will be idle by mid-April with a planned restart by August, and Tilden Mine in Michigan will be idled before the end of April with a planned restart in July. Cleveland-Cliffs said both mines would work down current inventory levels and fulfill commercial agreements before idling the mines. Read the full story here.
Imperiled Pork Production
Smithfield Foods, which processes pork for brands like Smithfield, Eckrich, and Nathan’s Famous, closed its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant until further notice starting April 13. The Smithfield Sioux Falls plant represents almost 5% of all U.S. pork production. According to the Associated Press, South Dakota health officials say that more than 200 of the 730 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in South Dakota work at the plant. Read the full story here.
Employer-Employee Transparency at Newport News Shipbuilding
Jennifer Boykin, president of Huntington Ingalls’s Newport News Shipbuilding, has set the standard for employer transparency amid the coronavirus. Each day, on its public website, Hutington Ingalls updates the number of workers it employs who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. IndustryWeek spoke to Boykin about Huntington Ingalls’s more open approach to employee communication, and what other measures were being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. Read the full story here.
Manufacturers Doing Their Part
Seattle-based Glowforge, a 3D laser-printing company, announced today it was mobilizing tens of thousands of its customers to make “ear savers,” plastic devices which improve the comfort of surgical and N95 masks. The company plans on offering the homemade PPE via its website, glowforge.com, as well as offering support for Glowforge users to connect with local institutions that need the devices. Read the full story here.
Ford Motors announced today they would expand their existing efforts to manufacture respirators and masks for medical professionals to include reusable gowns and face masks. Additionally, Ford’s design for a simplified powered air-purifying respirator or PAPR is set to go into production tomorrow at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan.