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COVID-19 Updates: August 7

Aug. 7, 2020
PPP Nears Closure; Manufacturing Marks a Second Month of Recovery; Marathon Sells Speedway

The Payroll Protection Program, initially passed as part of the March 30 CARES relief bill, is set to expire August 8. The program, initially passed in April as part of the CARES Act, offered small businesses loans via the Small Business Administration. As part of the deal, businesses meeting certain criteria which spent the money on keeping employees on the payroll, the loans could be forgiven. Initially funded with #342 billion of the more than $3 trillion Act, the program took off, and ran out of funds in less than two weeks.

The PPP has since been extended and replenished twice, allowing millions more businesses to benefit from the loans, including some that, arguably, the PPP was not intended for. Subsequent renewals of the program tweaked the conditions businesses had to meet in order to qualify for a loan, though, and Republicans and Democrats alike called it something of a bipartisan success. At present, though, the program may be on its last legs: The last renewal pushed the lifetime of the PPP to Saturday, August 8, and although some small businesses say that the money they’ve received may not be enough to save their businesses, it’s unclear what future aid programs will look like.

According to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the United States is currently still seeing high rates of new transmissions. Compared to numbers recorded July 30, the United States is reporting 400,000 new cases and almost 10,000 new deaths. (About 209,199 more cases were marked “recovered” in the same time frame.) Total cases in the U.S. now number 4.8 million, total deaths 160,091, and recovered patients 1.5 million.

Manufacturing Expansions Flourish During Unlikely Period

Despite the massive and undeniable negative impact of the virus, a number of large manufacturers recently announced significant expansions of their operations. Notable names buying property and breaking ground on new and expanded factories include Navistar International, Canpack Group, Tesla, Nikola, and General Mills. Read the full story here.

ISM: Manufacturing Marks a Second Month of Virus Recovery

Latest figures from the Institute for Supply Management show manufacturing’s economic recovery is progressing well. Their pricing manager’s index, or PMI, increased 1.6 points from June to 54.2%, indicating a second month of growth in the sector. The overall economy grew for a third month straight. Indexes measuring new production, prices, and order backlogs all increased. The manufacturing employment index also increased somewhat, but remained below 50%, indicating that it is still contracting, but at a lower rate. Read the full story here.

Amid Sunken Gas Prices, Marathon Sells Speedway, Idles Two Refineries

On August 2, Marathon Petroleum Corp announced it was selling its Speedway gas station business to 7-Eleven Inc. Oil prices have been pummeled in recent months by lack of demand, “particularly across the West Coast and Midwest,” according to Marathon CEO Michael J. Hennigan. In a separate move to weather the downturn, Marathon also announced it would idle two refineries indefinitely and consider converting a third to renewable diesel. Read the full story here.

Workforce Will Look Different After Recovery, Say CEOs

According to a new survey conducted by the Conference Board, the consensus among 1,300 C-suite executives is that companies will emerge from the pandemic with leaner workforces, likely involving more contract and gig workers and less permanent staff. Additionally, they anticipate that more flexible hours will become an increasingly common perk. Read the full story here.

Kodak, With Federal Help, Moves into Pharmaceuticals

In a novel public-private partnership, Eastman Kodak Co., famous for its photographic equipment, will pivot to producing pharmaceuticals out of Kodak Pharmaceuticals. The move comes alongside direction from the federal government issued as part of the Defense Production Act, along with a $765 million loan. Kodak Pharmaceuticals will use the loan to expand existing facilities in New York and Minnesota, directly adding 360 and indirectly adding 1,200 jobs to the locations. 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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