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COVID 19 Update 49

Post: May. 1, 2020

More Details on Contact Tracing Pilot Program from Cuomo and Bloomberg

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday detailed plans to develop a massive program for tracing the contacts of people in the state who test positive for coronavirus. 

Cuomo said the effort will require hiring between 6,400 and 17,000 contact tracers, depending on the spread of the virus. Bloomberg, whose philanthropic organization is helping to lead the program’s launch, joined Cuomo via video during the governor’s daily coronavirus briefing. “When social distancing is relaxed, contract tracing is our best hope for isolating the virus when it appears and keeping it isolated,” Bloomberg said.

He said Johns Hopkins University has developed a training class for contact tracers that can be taken remotely. 

Read the Governor’s Press Release

IRS Provides Expanded FAQs on Employee Retention Tax Credit

The IRS has issued expanded FAQs for the employee retention tax credit, which the NAM called for in our “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations.” The FAQs cover employer eligibility, allocation of qualified health plan expenses, interaction with other COVID-19 relief provisions and more. More information on this temporary, refundable payroll tax credit can be found here.

New CDC Guidance on Reopening

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday released new reopening guidance that is universally applicable to the broad U.S. population, including manufacturers and other businesses. The CDC webpage and its accompanying printout documents provide a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. This new guidance underscores the importance of the development, maintenance and constant reevaluation of cleaning and disinfection plans for businesses, workplaces and facilities.

Over 3.8 Million Americans Filed for Jobless Benefits Last Week as States Struggle With Coronavirus Claims Surge

The pandemic has triggered an unprecedented tidal wave of initial claims for unemployment insurance, at least 30.3 million nationwide since mid-March. That includes another 3.8 million filed last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, a modest decrease from the prior week but still well above any level reached before March.

Thursday’s report showed 12.4% of the U.S. workforce covered by unemployment benefits were receiving payments in the April 18 week, pushing further in the record territory, on data back to the early 1970s.

Read More at the WSJ

USPTO Extends Certain Patent-Related Deadlines due to COVID-19 Crisis

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has further extended the time to file certain patent-related documents or pay fees due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  This extension supersedes prior USPTO waivers of patent-related deadlines.  USPTO Director Andrei Iancu has determined that “[s]mall businesses and independent inventors, who frequently have less access to capital and for whom patent-related fees may constitute a more significant expense, may face particular difficulties.”  Therefore, “a person who is unable to meet patent-related timing deadlines due to the COVID-19 outbreak may be eligible for a waiver of certain deadlines….”

Read More from Harris Beach

Pfizer to Start Vaccine Testing Next Week

Work toward a COVID-19 vaccine is moving faster than expected, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. “New York–based Pfizer is working on vaccine candidates with Germany’s BioNTech SE. The shots are based on an emerging gene-based technology known as messenger RNA, or mRNA, which carry instructions from DNA to the body’s cells to make certain proteins.”

“Testing of a vaccine, which has already started in Germany, could start in the U.S. as early as next week if health regulators sign off. . . . If further testing also proves successful, Pfizer could start distributing the vaccine on an emergency basis in the fall and receive approval for widespread distribution by year’s end.”

 “Pfizer is investing $500 million in coronavirus vaccine and drug research, and is spending another $150 million to ready its manufacturing capabilities so the company can quickly make large quantities of antiviral agents, including a vaccine that succeeds in testing.”

Read More in the WSJ

SME PRIME Schools Help Save Lives

Teachers at Pine Bush High School in New York have been creating face shields for use in their community, which has a large number of first responders and medical personnel. “We wanted to do something to give back,” said Aaron Hopmayer, principal of PBHS. After receiving permission from the district superintendent to take equipment off-site, Hopmayer and the school’s two technology and engineering instructors — Kenny Marshall and Patrick Reiser — loaded 11 3D printers and one laser printer into their vehicles, taking them to Marshall’s and Reiser’s homes. Since then, the teachers have been working 12- to 15-hour days printing the shields, using designs supplied by the school of engineering at the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. As of April 16, Reiser and Marshall had produced more than 1,275 face shields in 11 days.

Read More at SME Educational Foundation

Listen to Kenny Marshall on the Council of Industry Podcast

Read Aaron Hopmayer’s Leader Profile in the Spring Edition of the Council of Industry’s magazine HV Mfg 

The Future of Work Is in Augmented Reality

As COVID-19 changes the way manufacturers work, augmented reality may have a role to play. Economist Michael Porter and PTC President and CEO James Heppelmann examine this technology in an article for the Manufacturing Leadership Council.

“In the simplest terms, AR allows relevant and actual digital information to be transmitted and displayed in context in the physical world. “Instead of a Zoom video conferencing call, AR technology allows remote experts to see the physical world in video and annotate physical objects during the call. . . . Instead of a YouTube how-to video on a computer screen, AR offers a solution that captures the best front-line expert performing a task with a wearable device that captures every step, and creates an interactive and step-by-step guide mapped onto the work environment for other workers to follow using a wearable device.”

 “AR does for front-line workers what video conferencing does for knowledge workers—it allows expertise to be shared electronically. But unlike video conferencing, which is solely digital and on flat screens, AR has one foot in the digital world and the other foot in the physical world—effectively serving as a bridge between them.”

You can read up on AR in this article in the Fall 2019 edition of the Council of Industry Magazine HV Mfg.