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Daily COVID-19 Updates: May 21

May 21, 2020
2,438,00 File for Unemployment Benefits; Trump Visits Michigan Ford Plant; Rolls-Royce Will Lay Off 9,000

President Trump visited Ford Motor Co.’s Rawsonville Components Plant today and toured the factory alongside a number of Ford executives. The Ypsilanti, Michigan plant is one of the plants Ford has re-tooled in order to produce makeshift ventilators.

Following their reopening on Monday, two of Ford’s plants have had to temporarily close after three employees in two plants were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Depending on how long the coronavirus lasts, it may remain a problem until a vaccine is released. Early estimates by viral experts forecasted that the virus might stick around for a significant amount of time until inoculations can prevent it from spreading further. Adding to optimism were findings from China that patients previously thought to be re-infected with the virus were not contagious, and were merely shedding inactive particles of the virus; but resurging rates of infections in Spain and Italy pose troubling questions for what the reopening of the U.S. economy might look like.

While it’s still likely too late to tell, one possibility for the future is that the economy will have to endure not just one long shutdown, but also additional, smaller lockdowns as the COVID-19 threat continues to work until a vaccine puts it out of commission.

Best Practices for Reopening Manufacturing Facilities

The Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of the National Association of Manufacturers, released a report today offering manufacturing leaders some guidance on new operational practices to consider while reopening after a COVID-19 related factory closure. “Manufacturers have been on the front lines throughout this crisis, and this guide leverages the experiences and real-world practices that manufacturers across America have put into place,” said NAM CEO Jay Timmons.

The standard includes guidelines which meet or exceed existing recommendations from various federal agencies, while also including information on manufacturing-specific risks those recommendations don’t cover. Read the full story here.

2,438,000 File for Unemployment Benefits

During the week ending May 16, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 2,438,000 initial unemployment insurance claims. The latest figure marks a drop of 294,000 claims from the week before: the number of adjusted claims recorded from the week of May 9 were 3,543,000. The number of initial unemployment claims has now dropped for seven weeks in a row, but it still remains at more than four times its highest point before the COVID-19 virus, 695,000 claims in a week. Almost 39 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since the middle of March.

Rolls-Royce Will Lay Off 9,000 Workers

In order to adjust to the impact of the coronavirus, Rolls-Royce announced today they had made plans to lay off more than 17% of their 52,000 person workforce—9,000 workers. The layoffs will mainly affect the company’s Civil Aerospace business, which, like fellow aerospace manufacturers Boeing and GE Aviation, has seen demand for airplane parts plummet as airlines cope with cratering demand for air travel. In a statement, Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said that the “medium-term” impact of the virus on air travel demand was too much for government aid to soak. 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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