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Daily COVID-19 Updates: May 8

May 8, 2020
Tesla Can’t Reopen Alameda Factory; Unemployment Reaches 14.7%; Ford’s Production Restart Plan

The release of the Department of Labor’s official Employment Situation report for April confirms what skyrocketing unemployment insurance claims have been suggesting since earlier that month: We are currently seeing the highest numbers of unemployment since the Great Depression.

The dramatic drop in employment over the month of April underscored the urgency many feel in advocating for reopening states as quickly as possible. Efforts to reopen the U.S. economy continued to creep along over the course of the week. When Monday comes around, the U.S. economy will be entering its third week of slowly relaxing safety standards for the COVID-19 outbreak.

That’s despite the fact that infection rates and deaths to the virus have continued to rise in certain regions of the country, feeding concern that the reopening is premature. But the week also saw some advances in fighting the virus that led observers to hope it might be contained sooner than later: Pfizer announced this week that a batch of potential vaccines was entering human testing.

Tesla Can’t Reopen Fremont, California Factory

Earlier in the year, Tesla Motors made headlines when CEO Elon Musk expressed skepticism about the severity of the novel coronavirus and said his Fremont, California factory would remain open despite a local quarantine order – a novel situation, at the time, since the greater San Francisco area was an early adopter of the tactic. The same factory is coming up in the news again as the local Alameda county health department says Tesla cannot go forward with plans to resume production on the afternoon of May 8. Read the full story here.

Unemployment Reaches 14.7%

The long-awaited April Employment Situation report from the Department of Labor was released today, containing detailed information about how many jobs were lost last month to COVID-19. The nonfarm private employment market lost more than 20.5 million positions, and manufacturing in particular lost 1.3 million. The employment rate in the United States is now lower than it has been since the Great Depression. Notably for manufacturers, durable goods manufacturing lost almost a million jobs itself, much more than in nondurable manufacturing, which lost 416,000. Read the full story here.

Ford Announces Reopening Plan

Ford Motor Co. announced late Thursday they would begin reopen its North American manufacturing plants starting May 18. The Dearborn, Michigan-based truck manufacturer said its plants would reopen on a phased timeline: On May 11, the first day allowed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said auto plants would be allowed to reopen, Ford will reopen its North American parts depot.

May 18 will see Ford’s assembly plants return to work on a one- or two-shift basis, depending on capacity. On May 25, Ford will resume production at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant and Oakville Assembly Complex. IT, product development, and other “location dependent” positions will return on a “staggered” timeline. Read the full story here.

Manufacturers Doing Their Part

The New Hampshire division of Prototek, a rapid prototyping, sheet metal and machining company announced today they had been selected by Meter, a Boston and San Francisco-based industrial hardware startup, to join a coalition to develop an emergency ventilator. In an email, Prototek VP of Operations PJ Swett said the deal would involve 50 units and 6,300 parts delivered within 5 days. “Prototek is known for our rapid turnaround and ability to produce challenging, precision parts,” said Swett. “But knowing the urgency of getting affordable ventilators out into the field added a sense of urgency for our team.”

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