|11/13/2020 2:55:00 PM|
Local manufacturer tells Senator Klobuchar of need for speedy testing
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar heard from local manufacturing business owner Traci Tapani and other owners of manufacturing firms in central Minnesota, about the need for speedy testing for the covid-19 virus. Businesses are finding lack of virus testing to be the major hurdle impacting their bottom line. Workers who think they may be ill, are waiting days in isolation for test results. They learn maybe days later they are positive but by then their 80 hours of salary coverage has been half eaten-up. Then, they still have to quarantine at least another 14 days.
In the conference call Nov. 6 Tapani explained to the senator there have been discussions among industry leadership to collectively hire a private testing company to provide tests in house.
Senator Klobuchar agreed, stating “It shouldn’t be just NFL players who can get tested.”
Klobuchar understands that knowledge of who has the virus and who doesn’t, reduces risks for everybody. Even the U.S. Senate is dealing with testing and quarantine efficiencies, she added.
Tapani, co-owner of Wyoming Machine and Chair of the Initiative Foundation, told Sen. Klobuchar that this pandemic has been one of the most difficult times in her 27-year professional life in manufacturing.
An Initiative Foundation Vice President Jeff Wig, also participated in the conference call, along with a St Cloud textile plant owner and Falls Fabricating President Dan Ortloff, Little Falls.
Sen. Klobuchar wanted to hear thoughts and impressions from various Minnesota businesspersons and the press was invited to be part of the conference calls. She wanted to learn how the Paycheck Protection Plan was actually implemented, how well the Minnesota DEED loans and grants programs worked, and get some advice on what might need revision in a hoped for third phase of federal covid relief.
Klobuchar was optimistic the House and Senate will find compromise soon, and get an agreement drafted with the election out of the way. The heated partisan tone is coming down a few degrees, she said. Having spoken with 13 Republican Senators over the week by phone, the senator reports getting the feeling “...there is interest in doing a pandemic package.”
At Wyoming Machine the employees were all eager to continue to work when the covid shutdown hit, Tapani explained in contrast to many stories of people choosing to take unemployment and the $600 weekly benefit.
But, the “connection” employees have with Wyoming Machine was important enough to maintain, Tapani continued. The company made parts for ventilators, it contributed to the production line of packaging for test kits.
The company stayed busy all along. Adjustments to virus precautions meant there were things to be learned on the manufacturing floor and front offices. Tapani said digital skills to communicate when in-person meetings were impossible, rose to the surface and she suggested training to develop these skills in all workers, to use communications devices looks to be a necessary part of any future employee’s resume.
The Initiative Foundation played a big role in covid aid dispersement. The foundation is one of several established in Minnesota that quickly partnered with the state Dept. of Employment and Economic Development on loan processing, doing 56 in two months.
Wig explained that the organization made 111 childcare grants, 750 grants/loans were sent through from DEED small business relief applications and 40 borrowers were able to use the deferred payment program.