- The National Association of Manufacturers on Tuesday released the "American Renewal Action Plan," in which the group lobbies for a range of steps that would protect the manufacturing industry legally and financially as it continues or restarts business during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The industry is calling on Congress to provide more financial incentives for manufacturers that switch to the production of essential goods, including personal protective equipment, or PPE. "The nation is not prepared for the near-constant demand for personal protective equipment that will come from all industries as states prepare to reopen their economies," the group said.
- The United Nations is also calling for more funding for the global emergency supply system to establish transportation hubs, charter ships and procure air freight. The U.N. called this a "vital logistics backbone that will help save lives and help halt the spread of the virus," according to an April 20 statement.
Along with financial support for the manufacturing industry, NAM is looking to protect manufacturers from potential lawsuits stemming from employees or customers who buy PPE, and is asking Congress to pass liability protection for these manufacturers.
"Congress should limit lawsuits in state and federal courts claiming damages for COVID-19 exposure in the workplace to those based on claims that companies had actual knowledge that the person would be exposed to COVID-19 and acted with reckless indifference or conscious disregard," NAM wrote.
NAM's call comes as local coronavirus outbreaks have popped up at various steps in the supply chain, from manufacturing facilities to fulfillment centers.
Congress has already provided some legal protection to manufacturers and distributors of respiratory devices, according to USA Today. This will help to increase production and "provides those engaged in the production, supply, and administration of countermeasures with a robust defense in the event of a lawsuit," according to law firm Harris Beach.
Financial incentives for manufacturers that switch to producing PPE is just one of NAM's recommendations. The industry is also calling for the Strategic National Stockpile to be replenished, for cargo capacity to be expanded with prioritization for medical cargo and for the U.S. government to coordinate with foreign governments on guidance for essential businesses.
The companies that make the switch to PPE often have to invest in redoing their production lines to make it possible.
"Upending our business model and retooling our factory quickly wasn't easy. We're far more familiar with apparel than with face shields and masks," Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds Waxman, co-owners of the clothing company American Roots, wrote in The Washington Post earlier this month.
Both NAM and the U.N. are also calling on more data to be collected on the outbreak. More testing will help get businesses open, NAM argued. Researchers from Harvard University have recently estimated testing needs to triple before states begin reopening, according to The New York Times.