Early March 26 saw U.S. deaths to the COVID-19 virus exceed 1,000 since the disease first arrived. Further grim news came out from the Department of Labor, which reported skyrocketing unemployment insurance claims for last week in March, caused in large part by virus-related layoffs.
Meanwhile on Capital Hill, the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package bill to the House, which is expected to pass the measure Friday. The bill, which is larger than any such stimulus passed before by Congress in modern history, contains billions of dollars in loans for businesses, grants for smaller businesses, and improved unemployment benefits in an attempt to alleviate the worst of the crisis. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is expected to pass the House quickly.
The most optimistic U.S. manufacturing news of the day came from Detroit, where Ford Motors and Fiat-Chrysler announced plans to re-open their factories for business in the middle of April with increased safety measures.
Automakers Tentatively Plan for Return to Work
Ford and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles both announced their intentions to resume production in the United States on April 14, pending further changes in the pandemic’s process and guidance from the CDC. At press time, General Motors had made no such statement, despite being the third automotive manufacturer in a COVID-19 task force formed between Ford, FCA, GM and the UAW auto workers union.
The announcement earned a raised eyebrow from the UAW; In a statement responding to Ford’s announcement, the Union said they were reviewing Ford’s plan “with great concern and caution.” Read the full story here.
The Department of Labor released figures March 26 that show unemployment insurance claims for the week ending March 21 jumping by more than 3 million claims compared to the week previous. Almost every state’s results included a note attributing the jump to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has caused layoffs nationwide. Read the full story here.
Bloomberg News reports that two Tesla Motors office employees have tested positive for coronavirus. According to an internal email obtained by Bloomberg, both employees have been working at home for almost two weeks and showed no symptoms while in the office.
The Boeing Bump
Boeing Co., which petitioned the government earlier this month for financial assistance, may be getting it once Congress enacts its stimulus package. Sources cited by Bloomberg News report the Chicago-based planemaker could get up to $60 billion in funding from the bill. Boeing argued that it was part of a long chain of U.S.-based parts suppliers, and that its own survival was critical to the survival of entire U.S. industries. Read the full story here.
Manufacturers Doing Their Part
Siemens announced today that they have opened their Additive Manufacturing Network to ease the process for doctors, hospitals, and medical equipment suppliers to request and produce critical medical equipment. Siemens designers and engineers are available as part of the network to help convert existing designs into ones that can be 3D-printed by member companies of the AM Network. Klaus Helmrich, Member of Siemens AG’s managing board, said the network should allow hospitals and other health institutions to “efficiently manage their design and printing requests."