Much has changed since March – and yet, much has not. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to escalate as the U.S. sets new records daily. This country accounts for 25% of all reported cases in the world, with positive test results now topping 50,000 each day. Despite inadequate testing, the U.S. recently surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus – with no end or even slowdown in sight.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with some states at or nearing capacity. Health care workers remain overwhelmed. PPE is still in short supply. And purchases of essential items are once again being limited in response to renewed panic buying.
According to CNN, new U.S. cases rose by 80% in the second half of June, at least 19 states that were reopening on a phased structure have rolled back those plans. Colorado closed all bars for July. California closed bars, restaurants and movie theaters in specific counties. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are asking visitors from certain states to self-quarantine for 14 days. Across the nation, Independence Day fireworks displays were canceled and most major sporting events are being held without fans in attendance.
One bright note in an otherwise gloomy account is that information from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization indicates that even as the number of diagnoses rise, the death rate is declining. Said to be due in part to treatment, the declining toll is also a result of the disease spreading to younger, healthier individuals.
Vaccine development is evolving rapidly; the Food and Drug Administration anticipates an approved vaccine late this year or early next. The Milken Institute has recorded 162 potential vaccines under development globally. The FDA has authorized clinical trials for four of them.
Business not as usual
The economy is also fighting to recover. According to the Department of Labor, 4.8 million jobs were added in June – the second consecutive month of job growth after the loss of 20 million jobs in the spring – dropping the unemployment rate to just over 11.1%. On the other hand, 1.4 million people filed new unemployment claims in the last week of June.
As companies alter the way they do business, from new cleaning regimens to shorter hours to imposed social distancing to shifting production to PPE, the economy is trying desperately to regenerate. Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deemed most construction essential, many contractors have continued work on projects, but with shipments of equipment, tools and materials interrupted, deadlines are hard to hit.
Small businesses in particular struggle to survive, despite PPP loans, deferred payroll tax (from the CARES Act and potentially a federal bill called the Main Street Revival Act), EID loans and other loans, grants, and financial assistance. People cope with illness, isolation, or the loss of jobs, homes and loved ones as an economic crisis trails the global pandemic. With civil unrest and political antagonism, many wonder what more 2020 could possibly have in store.
Thankfully, many AED members have stepped up to assist those in need, giving generously of their time, money and support because they know we are all in this together and the only way to survive is to give back to the community to make it stronger.
The Caterpillar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Caterpillar Inc., committed $8.5 million to support global communities, including underserved populations, affected by the virus.
The money will support nonprofit organizations working to help prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic. It will provide resources to hospitals, medical staff and patients; address food insecurity; and enable online STEM and coding education for students impacted by school closures.
Cat’s $8.5 million investment is being distributed among several organizations, including the following:
· United Nations Foundation/World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund
· King Baudouin Foundation Fund for Italy
· Global FoodBanking Network
· Feeding America Response Fund
· Boys & Girls Clubs of America
· Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund
As a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, the Caterpillar Foundation is collaborating with global facilities to support local nonprofits contributing to the COVID-19 response efforts, including a $250,000 donation to the China Women’s Development Foundation to provide health care facilities with critical medical protective materials and support to medical staff and patients. Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby says the donations are an expression of Cat’s values.
In addition to taking steps to keep employees safe, Vermeer is working with its dealers and logistics partners in the supply chain to implement best practices to continue serving their customers.
Partnering with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, Komatsu North America is donating $250,000 to support a network of 200 food banks, because COVID-19 has exacerbated the hunger crisis. This includes a 2-for-1 match of employee donations, up to $50,000. The network of 200 food banks partners with more than 60,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, churches and other community organizations to deliver food.
Komatsu America Corp., Komatsu Mining Corp., Modular Mining and Hensley Industries – all North American subsidiaries of Tokyo-based Komatsu Ltd. – are dedicating an additional $100,000 to local organizations in the communities in which they operate throughout North America, to support specific charitable efforts and needs in the areas of medical supplies and support, food insecurity and community funds.
The Toro Co. is giving $500,000 to assist families and communities worldwide that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funding from The Toro Foundation will provide food, health and humanitarian assistance to people adversely impacted.
Rick Olson, chairman and CEO of The Toro Co., says supporting their customers and communities displays an important part of their corporate culture, so they will make contributions to several global nonprofits that are assisting relief efforts. In addition, Toro will match employee contributions to a nonprofit organization of their choice in support of relief efforts.
SANY America Inc.
SANY America Inc. provided 50,000 medical-grade disposable face masks to support medical personnel and other first responders at Georgia hospitals, including Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia. This hospital serves Dougherty County, which has seen the highest number of fatalities from coronavirus in the state and is one of the facilities most in need during the crisis.
SANY America also sent more than 13,000 medical-grade masks to dealers for their employees who work with customers on a daily basis. SANY Capital, the financing division of SANY America, has offered customers additional financial support during the coronavirus crisis, with financing terms as low as 0% for up to 48 months and deferred payments for up to three months.
John Deere, in collaboration with the UAW, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, produced and donated 134,600 face shields to 49 VA medical centers in 27 states in need of additional personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19. This donation, known as Operation: Hero Support, was developed out of the company’s commitment to help communities in need. John Deere is an agricultural utility manufacturing company and does not normally manufacture face shields, but it produced them using an open-source design from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Other efforts by Deere include the following:
· PPE donations to health care facilities
· 2:1 employee matching program encouraging donations to local food banks and the American Red Cross
· Production of approximately 18,000 protective face shields for use by factory employees
· Employee volunteerism efforts to sew cloth masks for community members, along with a match from the John Deere Foundation for the time invested in this volunteer activity
· Launch of a COVID-19 innovations site to share open-source specifications for related projects, including 3D-printed clips to affix face shields to protective bump caps
Like Deere, Volvo also produced and donated PPE to local health care workers and first responders. In addition to providing more than 1,600 face shields and ear guards, Volvo Group North America is providing financial aid, medical supplies, purchasing expertise and other in-kind donations to nonprofits in multiple locations across the U.S. and Canada. “It is who we are,” says Brian Rudge, chief project manager for large soil compaction.
Working from home, Volvo employees assemble the products, using an internal supply of replacement lenses normally stocked for fabrication grinding, and attaching 3D-printed visor brackets to make a functional equivalent to the medical-grade face shields used in hospitals. Foam rolls, sourced from the cab assembly line, are cut and used to pad the shield visors.
Some employees write personal notes of encouragement that are added to the delivery boxes. Volvo is also collecting bleach and disinfectants to replenish supplies at local EMS departments.
LiuGong launched a Partnership Program for their dealer partners and customers to provide special pricing, extended warranties and no-interest financing for 48 months. The program applies to all machines ordered on or after Wednesday, March 25, 2020, when the pandemic was officially declared.