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March 23, 2020

Latest Business, Safety Guidance on COVID-19 for Metals Companies

Sunday, March 29, 9:15 a.m. ET:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield has provided a letter and additional guidance that provides manufacturers with clearer guidance on how to operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC also provided more specifics and best practices in an National Association of Manufacturers–Manufacturing Leadership Council webinar. Read a summary of the webinar here and listen here.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a temporary enforcement discretion policy due to COVID-19 . The EPA’s guidance will help manufacturers navigate this evolving landscape, easing compliance uncertainties while ensuring the health and safety of employees, communities and the environment remain a top priority. The guidance is here.

 

Thursday, March 26, 2:15 p.m. ET:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has several resources for employers, including:

Winston & Strawn also has several articles and issue briefs that might be of interest. Click here.

 

Tuesday, March 24, 11:15 a.m. ET:

New information from Thomas regarding:

Sunday, March 22, 12:45 p.m. ET:

As we announced on Friday, MSCI submitted a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the COVID-19 response for the Trump administration, and Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, to request that metals service centers be considered critical infrastructure and remain open in the face of the growing number of “shelter in place” policies nationwide.

MSCI has learned CISA will issue updated guidance soon in order to further clarify many job categories that CISA deems essential business/workers. If you believe your company should be deemed essential and has had difficulty delivering goods into areas that are currently locked down or otherwise have restricted access, please let Ann D’Orazio adorazio@msci.org at MSCI know as soon as possible.

Click here to see the original guidance from CISA.

 

Friday, March 20, 5:30 p.m. ET:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued updated guidance for businesses and employers, along with cleaning and disinfecting recommendations. Both documents are available here.

 

Friday, March 20, 4 p.m. ET:

MSCI staff participated in conference call in which VP Mike Pence, who is heading the federal government’s COVID-19 response efforts, spoke. He asked all companies that have extra N95 face masks to consider donating them to medical institutions. Spread the word.

 

Friday, March 20, 11 a.m. ET:

Message from MSCI President & CEO Bob Weidner: This letter is in response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s guidance regarding essential critical infrastructure workforces and industries. That guidance is here.

As you most certainly are aware, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted, or are considering, “shelter in place” policies. On behalf of MSCI, I submitted a letter today to Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the COVID-19 response for the Trump administration, and Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, to request that metals service centers be considered critical infrastructure and should remain open in the face of the growing number of “shelter in place” policies nationwide.

The letter is available here. We encourage you to share it directly with your U.S. representatives and senators.

While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues guidelines regarding businesses that are declared essential, local and state officials decide in their jurisdiction what qualify as essential businesses. It is imperative that you engage with your local and state officials. Linked below is a list of instructions from our partners at the National Association of Manufacturers that offers advice for how to communicate with them about this issue. If you use the templates and instructions provided here, please be sure to alter them to reflect your individual operations.

Now, more than ever, it is important that our community of companies speaks with a nonpartisan and unified voice to our elected officials and policymakers.

Please do not hesitate to call if you would like to discuss. The National Association of Manufacturers is tracking all state and local announcements here and here.

 

Friday, March 20, 8 a.m. ET:

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation has catalogued guidelines in its MAPI Members Playbook to Respond to the Coronavirus Epidemic. MAPI also has offered several scenarios to consider, including a response framework to manage key implications of COVID-19 on the business:

  • Workforce protection (e.g., facility and on-site norms)
  • Supply-chain stabilization (e.g., inventory and demand management)
  • Customer engagement (e.g., outreach and B2B transparency)
  • Financials stress testing (e.g., scenario definition)
  • Nerve-center integration (e.g., issue mapping, trigger-based actions, and leadership alignment)

The U.S. Small Business Administration has offered advice to businesses in states with emergency declarations:

Thursday, March 19, 10:30 a.m. ET

Congress has passed and President Donald Trump has signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the second stimulus bill designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill which will go into effect in 15 days, institutes free coronavirus testing, establishes paid leave policies, enhances Unemployment Insurance, expands food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding.

The U.S. House of Representatives has provided a detailed summary of the paid leave provisions in the bill. This summary also includes an FAQ that we encourage all members to review. It is available at this link.

Who Is Eligible?

  • Employees at companies with fewer than 500 employee
  • Employees who work under a multiemployer collective agreement and whose employers pay into a multiemployer plan
  • Local, state, and federal government employees

What Are Employees Eligible For?

  • Eligible full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) of fully paid time off (up to $511 per day) to self-quarantine, seek a diagnosis or preventive care, or receive treatment for COVID-19.
    • Eligible part-time employees are entitled to fully paid time off (up to $511 per day) for the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period to self-quarantine to seek a diagnosis or preventive care, or receive treatment for COVID-19.
  • Eligible full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) paid time off at two-thirds of their regular pay (up to $200 per day) to care for a family member or to care for a child whose school has closed, or if their child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
    • Eligible part-time employees are also entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period at two-thirds of their typical pay (up to $200 per day) to care for a child whose school has closed, or if their child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID- 19.

Employers initially front the cost of emergency paid sick leave but will be fully reimbursed by the federal government within three months. The reimbursement will cover both the wages paid and the employer’s contribution to employee health insurance premiums during the period of leave.

Employers will be reimbursed through a refundable tax credit that counts against employers’ payroll tax, which all employers pay regardless of non-profit/for-profit status.

Employers will submit emergency paid sick leave expenses as part of their estimated quarterly tax payments. If employer’s costs more than offset their tax liability, they will get a refund from the IRS.

 

Thursday, March 19, 7:45 a.m. ET

Kelley Drye hosted a webinar on Tuesday, March 17 that provided employers with advice about how to keep workplaces and workforces safe in the face of COVID-19. The presentation also answers questions about family and medical leave, the Americans with Disabilities Act, OSHA guidelines, and more. Click here to few the slide deck from the presentation.

The firm also maintains a comprehensive COVID-19 resource page that can be found here.

MSCI is grateful to Kelley-Drye for its permission to link to these resources.

 

Wednesday, March 18, 9 a.m. ET

MSCI President and CEO Bob Weidner released the following email to MSCI members this morning:

I hope that you, your employees, and your families are well and, like us, are going about life as best we can during these unprecedented and uncertain times. Information related to COVID-19 is changing hourly, almost minute-by-minute. While this is a time to be calm and focused, it also is a time for thoughtful and serious consideration of modified behaviors.

As such, I would like to update you on several actions MSCI is taking.

  • As I noted in my communication last week, we have postponed our Specialty Metals Conference, and are hoping to reschedule for a date later this year.
  • The May in-person Conference, commonly referred to as our Annual Meeting, is cancelled. The state of Maryland on Sunday announced closure of our venue and yesterday the state’s governor announced closure of all bars and restaurants. We will hold a “virtual” Annual Meeting of Members by June 30, 2020 to approve the minutes of last year’s meeting and to elect directors and officers only. For those of you who have already mailed your proxies, you don’t need to do anything else.
  • We have started discussions with the Thayer Hotel regarding the Tubular Conference, set for June 1-3 in West Point, N.Y. Registration just opened for this conference and we are hoping to move forward, but are working on contingency plans.
  • All Executive Education programs that had been scheduled to occur before June 30 will be postponed and rescheduled for the second half of the year. We are working now to notify registered participants.
  • All Professional Development programs that had been scheduled to occur at MSCI headquarters before June 30 are either cancelled or postponed. While we hope to reschedule some of these events for later this year, we have notified registered participants.
  • E-learning programs will continue as planned.

Our staff is working remotely until the end of this month but continues to serve members. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions and concerns. My staff is dedicated to serving this community, and is just a phone call – or web conference – away. Let us know how we can help.

MSCI has a strong foundation. While these are uncertain times, with calm and steady leadership I believe we will weather this storm.

My team and I will continue to apprise members of relevant information based upon best practices and/or professional and public health resources like CDC Guidelines. Please check this page for news and updates. We will communicate through Connecting the Dots and other appropriate channels.

During times like this I find myself reaching back in history for guidance and comfort. The world has experienced some horrific times and survived. As many of you know, I revere Winston Churchill. I reread his Finest Hour in which he asked his fellow citizens to “brace” themselves for their duties. We are doing that now, while working still to serve you.

Thank you for your membership, support and please be safe.

 

Tuesday, March 17, 12:45 p.m. ET

The National Association of Manufacturers held a call last week in which several participants outlined shop floor best practices for employees and visitors in the face of COVID-19. We share these with our members as they consider options. We encourage members to review information from their local, state, and federal officials as well. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to businesses is here. Guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is here, and guidance from the EPA on the use of disinfectants is here. Information from Invention and Prevention Control Canada is here.

Social Distancing:

  • Implement a no-visitor policy or ask visitors to self-report their health status and to agree to temperature checks (at the very least, no visitors who have traveled to high-risk areas)
  • Eliminate overlapping shifts
  • Allow employees who can telework to do so
  • Stagger lunch hours and other breaks to limit the number of employees in social rooms at any single time
  • Remind employees that they should have no physical contact (shaking hands, etc.)
  • For all in-person meetings ensure participants have six feet of personal space
  • Comply with local and state orders to ensure social distancing

Cleaning & Employee Hygiene:

  • Post information about proper hygiene related to both the flu and COVID-19 (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a sample flier available here)
  • Thoroughly disinfect workspaces between all shifts and at the end of the workday
  • Clean high-touch areas (lunchrooms, doorknobs) every hour
  • Require employees to wash their hands at specific intervals
  • Install sanitation dispensers
  • Use hooded hairnets on the shop floor so employees mouths are covered when they cough
  • Use safety glasses more widely

Sick Employees:

  • Require employees to self-report their status and ask employees to stay home if they are sick
  • Prepare an isolation room in the event an employee becomes sick
  • Suspend operations if an employee becomes ill and have the facility professionally cleaned and disinfected before anyone returns to the facility and move operations to another facility if possible
  • Require any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days and then require a health certification before they return to work

Travel

  • Consider suspending all business travel
  • Ask employees to self-quarantine if they have traveled by air, ship, or rail

 

Monday, March 16, 2:45 p.m. ET

  • Click here for the latest business guidance and economic impact analysis.
  • Click here for latest policy developments from Washington, DC and here for the latest developments from U.S. state capitals.
  • Click here for the latest policy developments from Ottawa.

 

Saturday, March 14, 11 am ET

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has assembled several documents for businesses regarding COVID-19, including:

  • Guidance for employers.
  • Workplace tips for employees.
  • Best practices designed to educate business leaders on disaster preparedness and business resilience.
  • Shareable social graphics about how to keep families, schools, and businesses safe, and what to do if you get sick are here.

The U.S. Chamber’s main COVID-19 page is here.

 

Friday, March 13, 5 pm ET

The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance on Thursday, March 12 that makes it clear that employees impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for federal unemployment insurance benefits. That guidance covers individuals who are quarantined because of the virus and who expect to return to work. It also applies to those who leave employment to avoid exposure or to individuals who are out of work in order to care for a family member. Employees who work at companies who close during the outbreak also are covered. The full guidance is available here.

 

Thursday, March 12, 9 am ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued extensive guidelines outlining mitigation strategies for communities, families, schools, and businesses trying to gain COVID-19. That guidance can be found here.

 

Wednesday, March 11, 6 pm ET
MSCI President & CEO Bob Weidner sent out the following communication to members this afternoon:

Many of you have inquired about the status of our Specialty Metals Conference scheduled at the end of this month at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort. We have made the decision to postpone this event, and are working with the hotel and speakers to reschedule it for a later date.

Once we have finalized dates and location for the rescheduled conference, we will reach out to you concerning your existing conference registration payment. We appreciate your patience while we work through the details of rescheduling this important networking and educational event for members doing business in specialty metals.

We have made no decisions about the May Annual Meeting at this time. Like you, however, we are monitoring guidance from local, state, and federal officials regularly and adjusting as required.

The safety of our staff, family and members is first and foremost among our priorities. We are respectful of the seriousness of the situation and are taking every reasonable step we can to ensure a safe environment at 4201 Euclid as well as throughout our various networking and education events. We will continue to be vigilant in researching with the appropriate medical authorities and other professional sources of information regarding the virus, and adapt our business activities in an appropriate manner. Safety is our highest priority, framed within a calm and calculated approach to day-to-day life.

 

Tuesday, March 10, 12 pm ET
While the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the outbreak of COVID-19 will slow global economic growth this year, lawmakers in the United States passed and President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion supplemental spending package to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The emergency spending legislation provides:

  • $6.49 billion for the Health and Human Services Department (including $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention);
  • $61 million for the Food and Drug Administration;
  • $1.3 billion for the State Department; and
  • $20 million for the Small Business Administration.

The legislation also includes nearly $950 million to support state and local health agencies prepare for and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States, and includes a provision that allows Medicare providers to provide telehealth medical services to patients who are at their homes. Lawmakers are now considering aid to certain industries, including the airline industry, in the form of tax breaks.

Those options come as the Federal Reserve announced that its latest nationwide survey on business conditions determined the outbreak has begun to disrupt manufacturing chains in parts of the United States. A Harvard Business Review articleagrees but concludes that disturbances in the manufacturing supply chain soon could ease.) While Congress considers its next steps, U.S. and Canadian agencies continue to update information for businesses.

Click here to see the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and here for information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Infection and Prevention Canada has information here.

Korn Ferry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also have offered articles for business executives trying to provide leadership during this crisis. Also of interest: FastMarketsAMM (subscription required) interviewed officials at MSCI member company Ryerson about the impact they have seen from the coronavirus so far. Click here to read that story, which is available to subscribers.