Beyond the Numbers: COVID-19 Concerns Top of Mind for U.S. Manufacturing Leaders

As Americans shelter in place to help flatten the curve of infection, manufacturing industry leaders have the challenging task of balancing employee health and safety with international supply chain demands like never before.

On this episode of Weaver’s Beyond the Numbers podcast, host Shelby Skrhak sat down with Jody Allred, Partner-in-Charge for Large Market Manufacturing and Distribution and Technology Services, and Kurtis Dixon, Partner in Tax Services to discuss critical issues facing manufacturing industry leaders who are seeking guidance on handling the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Two industry organizations, Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and the National Association of Manufacturers, recently surveyed the industry, seeking insight on their coronavirus concerns and practical solutions for mitigating the effect.

MAPI revealed that pandemic concerns are rising, with approximately 62% of executives expressing moderate or high concern about COVID-19’s impact on global operations when surveyed March 9. This was a significant rise from the first poll in late-January, which reported 37%.

“For U.S. manufacturing businesses that operate globally, in a very short amount of time, their perspective changed as more information was known,” Allred said. “And from March 9 until today, we’re looking at an even more significant change.”

Whereas the initial and follow-up surveys focused on supply chain issues for essential equipment, such as personal protective equipment, U.S. manufacturers have a new problem emerging, as people are under government orders to stay home and close non-essential businesses.

Of note, the largest manufacturer of protective masks for healthcare workers is Wuhan, China, the initial epicenter of the pandemic.

“Manufacturers are looking forward at demand locally in the U.S and how that’s degrading,” Allred said. “That has become a much more significant problem today than what the March 9 survey that was focused on supply chain issues (suggested).”

Also on this episode, Dixon discussed the tax implications related to the government’s CARES Act, which will provide stimulus relief, and the lesser-known Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was recently passed.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations from small businesses of under 500 people asking how all this works,” Dixon said. “The rules can be confusing, initially.”

It requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

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