The number of people infected by the novel coronavirus in the United States went up by more than 50% over the weekend as the economy continued to struggle with the ongoing effects of the global epidemic. In the manufacturing sector, those effects manifested as record lows for the Dallas Fed’s gauge of manufacturing executives, extending losses reported two weeks ago in the Empire State and Pennsylvania indexes.
Brighter news came from the automotive and medical equipment sectors, where Ford, following the President’s surprise Friday decision to force GM to produce ventilators with partner company Ventec, announced they would produce 50,000 ventilators in the coming 100 days by partnering with GE Healthcare. And in an impressive step forward for testing availability, Abbott Laboratories announced it had developed a test that can run on machines located in thousands of clinics and hospitals all over the nation.
Abbott Laboratory’s 5-Minute Test
The implementation of widespread COVID-19 testing has hit a number of bumps, but a recent development may smooth the near term future of testing. On March 27, Abbott Laboratories announced their development of a COVID-19 test that can run on its popular ID Now platform.
The ID Now diagnostic platform is a very common device used in many clinics and hospitals to test for influenza and strep throat. Abbott CEO Robert Ford, in a statement, said that the test’s compatibility with the popular device would allow healthcare providers to test for the device in outbreak hotspots. Read the full story here.
Dallas Manufacturing Index Drops 70 Points; Supply Chains Unpredictable
The coronavirus pandemic continues to harm the manufacturing sector at large. The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s general business outlook index dropped from 1.2 in February to -70 in March, indicating deep pessimism among manufacturers. Respondents to the survey cited supplier and customer shutdowns, shortages of raw materials, and an overall lack of certainty: The survey’s measure of uncertainty rose more than 50 points to 62.6 in March. Read the full story here.
Another unforeseen effect of the coronavirus epidemic: The chaos of supply chains has inspired more perspectives than ever on what can be done in the future to ensure that future crises don’t result in the same kind of problems. Read the full story here.
Automakers Rev Up Ventilator Production Efforts
Ford Motors announced March 30 that it had plans to produce about 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days. The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a simplified design, requires no electricity, and, according to Ford, will meet the needs of most coronavirus patients, and will augment Ford’s efforts to help speed Airon’s ventilator supply lines.
Meanwhile, GM began initial plans to make ventilators for the COVID-19 outbreak around March 18. Since then, they’ve formed an alliance with medical-equipment company Ventec, collaborated, and been spurred on by the President’s invocation of the Defense Production Act to begin production soon. Company estimates now place GM’s schedule to begin production of ventilating devices to be on track to begin distributing devices by mid-April. Read the full story here.