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Daily COVID-19 Updates: May 20

May 20, 2020
Ford’s Bumpy Reopening; The Sputtering Road to Recovery; Workers Lose $1.3 Trillion in Income During Pandemic

Monday’s update pointed out that the current progress of reopening in the country was something like a mirror of the quarantine orders eventually passed by all states in some capacity, with more cautious states closing sooner and opening later and more ambitious regions closing later and opening sooner.

It’s a sign of hope for the near term future, then, that the states with the longest-term “shelter at home” orders will now see those orders expire in as little time as two weeks. Quarantine orders in Washington, D.C. will expire June 8, New Jersey’s will expire June 5, and Delaware and Illinois’ orders will expire at the end of the month, May 31.

At the same time, its still as yet unclear as to whether stricter measures for controlling the virus will prove more effective at containing it. Based on data reported by the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the rate of virus contraction in the United States is unevenly decreasing from heights recorded earlier in the month.

Ford Temporarily Closes Two Recently-Reopened Plants for Cleaning

Two days after resuming U.S. production, Ford Motor Co. closed two of the reopened plants after workers at both contracted the novel coronavirus. According to the New York Times, two employees working in Chicago and one employee working out of Dearborn, Michigan received positive diagnoses of the virus, forcing the Dearborn-based truck manufacturer to close and sanitize the affected buildings. Ford reportedly expected the Dearborn plant to resume production later in the day May 20.

Workers Have Lost $1.3 Trillion in Income to Pandemic

The economic tolls of the coronavirus continue to come into shape. According to new research from the Society for Human Resource Management and Oxford Economics, U.S. workers have lost a combined $1.3 trillion in wages, or about $8,900 per worker, as of late April. A full 20% of the lost wages represent cut earnings of those workers who remain employed.

The immensity of the lost wages in absolute terms spells trouble for the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. “In many communities, it may take years to replace the jobs lost in a matter of weeks,” said Dan Levine, head of Oxford Economic’s location strategies practice. Read the full story here.

The Sputtering Road to Recovery

The COVID-19 downturn has been unlike any other, writes Stephen Gold, and the results will shape manufacturing forever. What those results will be, as yet, is unclear. “With the country still neck-deep in the economic muck left behind by the global lockdown, even the sharpest forecasters have difficulty looking out much beyond the third quarter of this year,” writes Gold.

Critical factors manufacturers should pay attention to, Gold writes, include how to reopen, the new demand for must-have safety practices, and restoring demand for products to pre-COVID-19 levels. “Demand plummeted virtually overnight this spring,” Gold notes, pointing out that nearly 40% of manufacturers saw dramatic declines in their capacity utilization. Read the full story here.

Keeping Employees Safe

A group of engineers at Digi-Key electronics, an electrical component distributor based out of Minnesota, designed a UV light tunnel to disinfect commonly-used equipment in the factory. “One of the biggest challenges we faced in creating the UV tunnel was the fact that a design did not exist,” said one of the engineers. Ultraviolet light can kill a virus’s potential to reproduce, making it a promising avenue for sanitization solutions. Read the full story here.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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