UR graduates doctors early to help with pandemic

An early graduation at the University of Rochester School of Medicine this week means Rochester gets 22 newly minted doctors who may be able to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The UR medical school class of 2020, pictured at their White Coat ceremony four years ago. (Photo supplied by UR.)
The UR medical school class of 2020, pictured at their white coat ceremony four years ago. (Photo supplied by UR.)

The university conducted a brief online ceremony Wednesday to confer the degree of doctor of medicine on approximately 100 graduates. Twenty members of the class of 2020 will continue into residency programs at the University of Rochester in more than a dozen specialties. Two graduates will do their residencies at Rochester Regional Health’s Unity Hospital. Another eight graduates are assigned to other New York hospitals or programs, from SUNY Upstate Medical University to Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. 

The university said it scheduled the graduation several weeks early in step with other medical schools across the state. 

“The unprecedented health crisis has led us to schedule your medical school graduation early to allow you to be with your families, relocate to the site of your residency or to enter clinical practice locally or remotely to assist in addressing the current pandemic,” said Dr. David Taubman, dean of the school of medicine and CEO of the medical center, in a brief online ceremony. 

The graduation included chamber music, brief statements and a recitation of the medical oath all in less than five minutes. There was no reading of names of the graduates. Taubman said a more formal celebration will follow online in May, when the students had been scheduled to graduate. 

UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf told the graduates, “This may not be the commencement  you hoped for, but this is the profession you have prepared for and we are very, very grateful for that fact as we face the tremendous public health challenge before us…The next few weeks and months will require not just your knowledge and your skill, but also your compassion and your courage.”

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Despite Naval incident, it’s still illegal to retaliate against whistleblowers

While this week has shown retaliation is apparently practiced in the military, the federal Department of Labor nevertheless is reminding employers that it’s illegal to retaliate against workers who report conditions made unsafe because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That means employers can’t fire, demote, deny overtime or promotion or reduce pay or hours for whistleblowers. 

The US Navy did just that week, though, as it relieved Captain Brett E. Crozier of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Thursday after he sent emails complaining of superiors’ lack   of action on concerns about the coronavirus infecting sailors on his ship. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly not only fired Crozier, but on Monday flew to his ship in Guam to address the ship’s crew over loudspeaker, excoriating Crozier’s breech of protocol and calling him stupid. 

Crozier, meanwhile, has tested positive for COVID-19, as have at least 200 crew members. Modly later apologized and then resigned on Tuesday. 

Employers who would like to avoid embarrassment, not to mention legal trouble, might do better to follow the advice of the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration rather than Modly’s example.   

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”

More than 20 statutes protect the rights of whistleblowers against retaliation, and these statutes are enforced by OSHA. The agency also maintains web pages with information about the protections that are offered to whistleblowers and how they might seek help in the event of retaliation. 

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Xerox to produce ventilators in Webster

Xerox Holdings Corp. has partnered with Vortran Medical Technology to produce thousands of ventilators from Xerox’s Webster campus, the two companies announced Tuesday.

The production will speed and scale production of Vortran’s GO2Vent ventilator and related Airway Pressure Monitor for hospitals and emergency response units fighting the battle against COVID-19.

Assuming a stable supply of essential parts, the companies will rapidly scale up production from roughly 40,000 ventilators in April to between 150,000 and 200,000 ventilators per month by June. Together, Xerox and Vortran could produce as many as 1 million ventilators in the coming months, the companies said.

While the GO2Vent is not a replacement for ventilators found in intensive care units, it is widely used in emergency situations, inter-hospital transport and MRIs. Given the shortage of ICU-grade ventilators, medical professionals are utilizing tools like this and other technology to support patients who do not yet or no longer need an ICU-level breathing device, which can be freed up for another patient.

John Visentin
John Visentin

“Our smartest minds met—virtually—with Vortran’s smartest minds and figured out how to mass-produce this critical technology,” said John Visentin, vice chairman CEO of Xerox. “We want to help make sure doctors, nurses and paramedics on the frontlines have the resources they need to help the rising number of patients with COVID-19.”

While Xerox plans to manufacture ventilators from its Webster facility, where the company was founded, Vortran will continue to manufacture ventilators at its current facility in Sacramento, Calif.

“The partnership with Xerox has one clear goal – to help save as many lives as possible. With Vortran’s proven technology and Xerox’s ability to hyper-scale manufacturing, we believe we can supply health care providers as many as 1 million ventilators in the coming months,” said Vortran Co-founder and CEO Gordon Wong M.D. “For all of us, this will be the most important thing we ever do.”

Vortran’s GO2Vent was designed for emergency use, natural disasters and disease outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. A gas-operated, disposable ventilator that can be set up within minutes and discarded after use by a single patient, it provides support via a secure airway and can be operated on a compressor, oxygen or air with a minimum of 10 liters per minute flow rates.

In addition to scaling up production of the GO2Vent and APM-Plus, Xerox and Vortran expect to compile and analyze data and feedback from health care professionals on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 in order to design and mass-produce external, in-line modifications that can be added to the GO2Vent to expand the potential applications of this life-saving equipment.

Xerox shares (NYSE: XRS) closed Monday at $18.71 but had climbed to $19.21 in pre-market trading Tuesday.

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Survey: Majority of New Yorkers worried about finances during pandemic

Some 95 percent of New Yorkers are either quarantining or practicing social distancing, a new poll from Siena College Research Institute shows.

The SCRI special Coronavirus Poll was conducted March 30 through April 2 by random phone calls to more than 400 New York adults and 400 responses drawn from a proprietary panel via Lucid.

The survey found that COVID-19 was having either a somewhat or very significant impact on New Yorkers’ daily life. Fourteen percent say they are under mandatory quarantine, while 42 percent are self-quarantining. Some 39 percent are practicing social distancing, while 4 percent are going about life as usual.

Seventy-seven percent of New Yorkers are either somewhat or very concerned that the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts will cause them serious financial problems. Roughly half of the survey respondents said they are concerned with being able to meet their monthly financial obligations and 37 percent are concerned about being laid off.

Nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers are concerned about their retirement savings or investments losing value; 49 percent are concerned about having to financially help other family members; and 41 percent are concerned with being able to afford food.

“The coronavirus crisis has turned life upside down for nearly all New Yorkers,” said SCRI Director Don Levy in a statement Monday. “And as the crisis continues, the emotional toll is starting to mount. Two-thirds of New Yorkers say that their anxiety level is up, 66 percent say they feel powerless and wish there was something more they could do and 62 percent say that ‘it’s starting to feel like this will never end.’”

Within the Upstate New York region, 80 percent of respondents said COVID-19 was having a somewhat significant or very significant impact on their lives, and 70 percent said they were somewhat concerned or very concerned the pandemic would cause serious financial hardship.

Some 29 percent of upstate respondents said they were concerned about being laid off, while 43 percent said they were worried about not being able to pay their monthly bills. Just over half of Upstaters said they were concerned about their retirement savings, while 43 percent said they were worried about having to help family members financially.

But there was a small silver lining in the report. Some 76 percent of all New Yorkers said they feel like they are enjoying the small things even more now and three-quarters said they were appreciating the extra time they have with those that are close to them.

“Despite being forced to change the way we live, being worried about our health and the health of everyone we care about, concerned about our financial well-being and having to live with the uncertainty as to when this will ever end, an overwhelming number of New Yorkers say that they are getting a chance to appreciate—whether by watching old movies, playing games or just being together—having extra time with those that they are close to,” Levy said. “And with all the things to worry about—health, money, food and bills—most of us say that we feel like we are enjoying the small things even more now than before.”

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Nearly $3 million raised in three weeks of Community Crisis Fund

In the nearly three weeks since United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and Rochester Area Community Foundation formed Rochester’s Community Crisis Fund, nearly $2.7 million has been raised to help area nonprofits and those in need, including a $1 million grant from ESL Charitable Foundation.

More than 250 individuals have donated more than $46,000 online at the fund’s website, officials said Friday.

Grants during Phase 1 of funding have been made to 32 agencies, including 18 last week. Grants were made to ARC of Wayne, Heritage Christian Services, Salvation Army, Veteran’s Outreach Center and more. Previous grants were received by Ibero-American Action League, Meals on Wheels, Trillium Health, Volunteers of America Upstate New York and others.

During the week preceding the Community Crisis Fund, local foundations came together to pool and disburse an initial $260,000 to help Foodlink Inc. address the immediate food insecurity that resulted from school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the United Way and RACF, community partners include ESL Charitable Foundation, Farash Foundation, Konar Foundation, Bank of America, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Greater Rochester Health Foundation, MVP Health, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, J.P. Morgan, Waldron Rise Foundation, National Grid and HUNT Charitable Foundation.

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Rochester sends emergency health care team to NYC

Strong Memorial Hospital is sending a team of emergency health care workers to help a NYC hospital cope with the COVID-19 crisis. (file photo)
Strong Memorial Hospital is sending a team of emergency health care workers to help a NYC hospital cope with the COVID-19 crisis. (file photo)

A team of 15 emergency medicine workers from Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital traveled to the New York City area Sunday to begin working at one of Northwell Health’s medical facilities. 

“Our institution is proud of these individuals for volunteering to support our downstate colleagues, who are struggling 24/7 to manage their increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients,” said Michael F. Kamali, M.D., chairman of Emergency Medicine at Strong.

The group included emergency medicine doctors, registered nurses and physician assistants, Kamali said. 

“Not only can we support Northwell and provide some relief to its overtaxed system, but our team will bring back valuable knowledge that can be shared across our own community to help us prepare for the point when our own numbers increase,” Kamali said. 

 Northwell’s 24 hospitals include Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, but nearly all of the rest are in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. 

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Jewish community to receive Passover meals

The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester and Jewish Family Service plan to provide Passover Seder meals to anyone who is unable to leave their homes, including the elderly, immunocompromised, those with disabilities and those who do not have family or other supports to assist them.

Passover begins on April 8 and is the most celebrated holiday in the Jewish world. Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Kosher chef Eli Barashi and the staff of Inspired Catering have been working to prepare the meals, officials said.

“In the spirit of the Passover holiday, Jewish Family Service is thrilled to be able to provide a glimmer of hope and community amidst the hard times we currently face as a community, country and world,”  Jennie Schaff, president and CEO of Jewish Family Service, said in a statement. “We hope that through the tastes of familiar and customary Passover foods we can bring the essence of the holiday into the homes of those who would not otherwise be able to celebrate.”

Volunteer drivers will pick up more than 300 meal packages from Congregation Beth Sholom today and Tuesday and deliver them to households across the community. Volunteers are strictly observing the CDC guidelines of social distancing throughout.

“I am very proud of this joint effort to provide Passover meals to our community members. As part of our mission, Federation responds to people in need, and the needs are great right now,” said Meredith Dragon, CEO of the Jewish Federation. “This is one act of kindness that shows people how much we truly care about their well being.”

Dragon said one of the challenges we face today is how to build community while we are isolated.

“Providing Passover meals to community members allows us to rely on each other, even while we are apart, which ultimately strengthens all of us,” Dragon added.

The Jewish Federation works to build and protect a strong Jewish future in Rochester, Israel and worldwide through philanthropy, engagement, education and advocacy. Jewish Family Service strengths all individuals, families and communities by providing comprehensive social services that are built upon Jewish traditions of dignity, kindness and tikun olam, improving the world.

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Constellation finishes year stronger than expected

Beer is booming for Constellation Brands, particularly its Modello brands,the Victor-based company shared in an annual financial report Friday. 

Gains over the previous year resulted in a dividend of 75 cents per Class A share and 68 cents per Class B stock. Sales were up 5.9 percent overall in fiscal 2020, which ended Feb. 19 for Constellation.Constellation Brands

Results for the last quarter of the year were $2.06 per share, which came in 41 cents per share above the company’s predictions.

The news wasn’t quite as bright for wine and spirits over the course of the year, though. While beer sales were up 8 percent over the previous year, wine and spirits sales were down 6.4 percent.

But with people turning to alcohol of many types to steady their nerves during the COVID-19 pandemic, Constellation’s new fiscal year is off to a running start. Off-premise consumption of beer, accounting for 85 percent of beer sales, have increased 24 percent in the last four weeks said CEO Bill Newlands. Wine and spirits have seen a 23 percent jump in that time frame. 

The company experienced a loss of $41.5 million in the fourth quarter from its investment of Canopy Growth, the Canandian cannabis operation, and expects losses to continue in the new fiscal year, due to the closure of greenhouse facilities. 

Meanwhile, Constellation said it is making progress on another glass plant in Mexicali, Mexico,  to supply its brewery there. Despite the pandemic, breweries continue to operate in the US, Italy, Mexico and New Zealand, Newlands said. 

Modello is now the top beer brand in Chicago, Nevada and California, Newlands reported, and Constellation will continue to boost the brand with marketing including Spanish-language promotions. 

In an apples-to-oranges comparison, the annual report said Constellations premium wines are selling better than the entire wine category in the United States, but noted those wines are doing well compared to other premium wines, too. Before the pandemic hit, Constellation was expecting growth of about 7 to 8 percent in its beer business, but losses to 30 percent and more in wine as it sold off more less-than-premium lines. However, because of the health crisis and the economic uncertainty it is causing, the company did not issue any predictions for Fiscal 2021. 

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MCC reschedules graduation to December

Monroe Community College plans to hold its 2020 graduation ceremonies in early December instead of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May 30 commencement has tentatively been rescheduled to Dec. 3. mcc-logo

The decision to delay commencement is heart-wrenching but necessary to ensure the well-being and safety of our students, their families, faculty, staff, and the Greater Rochester community. I fully understand and share our students’ disappointment over the change in plans,” said MCC Interim President Katherine Douglas. “However, our students’ hard work, resilience and achievements at MCC will not go unrecognized. I am committed to seeing our students experience the distinctive tradition of walking across the stage in December and celebrating with them this significant milestone in their lives.”

Douglas made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Approximately 2,000 students are expected to graduate. The ceremony typically takes place in the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.  

Additional details about the graduation, and about end-of-year events that are being moved online will be shared later, the college said. 

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Roberts Wesleyan joins the pack with graduation postponement

roberts-wesleyan-logoRoberts Wesleyan College announced this week that it is postponing its May 9 commencement ceremonies due to uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most other local colleges have already announced cancellation of their spring graduation ceremonies with plans to provide details at a later date about what might take the place of the previously scheduled commencement. 

Monroe Community College announced on Thursday that it will hold graduation in December instead of May.

Other postponements include Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College, SUNY College at Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, Finger Lakes Community College, and Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School. 

Hobart and William Smith President Joyce Jacobsen shared with that campus community that the in-person graduation scheduled for May 17 is canceled, but the colleges are considering a virtual graduation at the same time, among other options. 

A decision hasn’t yet been shared about commencement at Genesee Community College. 

Despite the lack of ceremonies, colleges have noted that graduating students will still receive their diplomas in the mail, and their transcripts will be updated to indicate they’ve graduated on time.

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Manufacturers step up to help mitigate spread of COVID-19

As the region’s health care providers grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of resources and vital supplies, two more Rochester-area manufacturers have stepped up to help.

J.N. White Associates Inc. on Sunday said it had launched a splatter protecting face shield to help fight the spread of the disease, while Eastman Kodak Co. on Tuesday announced it had entered an agreement with the state of New York to supply isopropyl alcohol to aid in the production of “NYS Clean” hand sanitizer.

To support the state’s production of hand sanitizer—available free to residents and distributed to impacted communities as well as state agencies like schools and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority—Kodak has begun delivering tanker loads of the chemical from its Eastman Business Park facility.

“Kodak is committed to helping fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza in a statement. “I could not be prouder of our dedicated team members who quickly mobilized to provide this essential ingredient for hand sanitizer. We will continue to work closely with New York and federal representatives to identify other ways to bring Kodak’s resources and technology to bear in the fight against this pandemic.”

J.N. White Associates Inc. has launched the SplatterGuard as an additional line of defense against moisture droplets. (photo provided)
J.N. White Associates Inc. has launched the SplatterGuard as an additional line of defense against moisture droplets. (photo provided)

In the Wyoming County town of Perry, JN White has developed the SplatterGuard, an all-in-one face shield that can be used as an additional piece of personal protective equipment to impede droplets of moisture or other materials from reaching the face.

The company added the product specifically to assist those facing increased risk from the COVID-19 virus, officials said. The new product is far afield from the 60-year-old company’s typical work as an ISO 9001:2015 and ITAR certified custom manufacturer specializing in the design and production of membrane switches, graphic overlays and labels.

“JN White is deploying the great minds of our employees and production resources in new ways to help fight this pandemic,” said President Jason Aymerich in a statement. “We are so proud of our team and their ingenuity, and honored to do our part as Americans.”

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Rochester communities get share of HUD funding

Dozens of New York localities will share an additional $2.4 billion in funding from the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD), a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The funds are to be used for economic development and public infrastructure in upstate communities.

“The Community Development Block Grant is a vital stream of investment that supports local economic growth, community revitalization and affordable housing. Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must not forget to invest in our future, and this funding does just that,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a statement Tuesday. “I worked hard to get this funding on the negotiating table and into the final deal because this program delivers real results to Upstate New York by creating good-paying jobs, delivering essential services that will help communities and investing in affordable housing for our vulnerable populations. I will always fight tooth and nail to protect this critical investment for our communities.”

The city of Rochester is slated to receive nearly $4.9 million in CDBG “Corona 3” funding, while Monroe County will receive nearly $1.1 million. The town of Greece will receive more than $250,000 and the town of Irondequoit will receive nearly $540,000. Nearly 50 municipalities will receive CDBG funding.

“Investing in local economic growth is more important now than ever,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in the statement. “This funding will help rebuild our communities and ensures the needs of our most vulnerable populations are met today and for years to come.”

Communities in New York state will use the funding to address a wide range of needs and enable local governments to support community nonprofits perform essential services, fund workforce development and training, retrofit community facilities for medical or quarantine use, support food and essential supply delivery to vulnerable populations and support vital governmental functions, officials said.

The additional CDBG funding was allocated to states and units of local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula. The funding is 70 percent entitlement communities and 30 percent states. The senators said that the $2.4 billion secured in the bipartisan “Corona 3” negotiations is the first of a series of allocations that localities may be eligible for.

New York state will receive $1 billion in order to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities. In addition, depending on whether or not a community is affected by COVID-19, resulting in related economic and housing disruption, HUD can respond accordingly with an additional targeted assistance pot of $2 billion.

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Hickey Freeman making masks for Rochester General Hospital

Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing is set to begin production of protective face masks for the medical staff at Rochester General Hospital, the Rochester manufacturer said Tuesday.

Stephen Granovsky
Stephen Granovsky

“We have hundreds of the best sewing machine operators in the country. When Rochester General made the request, of course, we answered the call. We will do whatever it takes,” HFTC CEO Stephen Granovsky said in a statement. “This is a small contribution compared to the health care workers we are helping protect.”

The North Clinton Avenue factory is manufacturing with an initial on-site staff, which will grow as needed, officials said. The plant had closed temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic to protect employees, but new practices for distance and disinfection are being implemented to protect the staff brought back to make the masks.

RGH uses some 15,000 masks each day and that number could increase due to the pandemic, according to the statement. Hospital personnel worked with Jeffery Diduch, vice president of technical design for HFTC, to create a protective mask that can be used by their staff.

Since announcing the initiative on social media last weekend, Hickey Freeman has received responses from more than 7,000 volunteers. The company is considering expanding its capacity by producing at-

A Hickey Freeman worker making masks for Rochester General Hospital. (Photo provided)
A Hickey Freeman worker making masks for Rochester General Hospital. (Photo provided)

home kits for volunteers who have the skills and ability to contribute.

“I expected there would be people in the community who would want to help, but the response has exceeded anything I could have imagined,” Diduch said. “In this time of crisis, Americans are ready to do what they can. It’s truly inspiring.”

HFTC, a luxury menswear brand, has called Rochester home for more than 120 years. The company is owned by Grano Retail Holdings, a company founded by Granovsky in 2007 to acquire merchandising businesses with growth opportunities.

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Senators, congressman urge GM to produce ventilators in Rochester

Elected officials are urging General Motors Corp. to begin producing ventilators at the company’s Rochester facility.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Congressman Joseph Morelle on Tuesday sent word to GM Chairman and CEO Marry Barra to locate ventilator production at GM’s Rochester components plant to help mitigate the severe shortage of the life-saving device.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Morelle in a joint statement explained that the Rochester plant is particularly suitable to support the increased ventilator production because it already is equipped with a large Class 100,000 cleanroom to allow for manufacturing in a sterile environment, in addition to performing high volume assembly, including injection molding and precision laser welding.

The three representatives emphasized that in addition to being equipped to produce the medical equipment, the Rochester workforce also is eager and willing to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, as the leadership of the United Auto Workers Local 1097 informed the senators. UAW Local 1097 represents Rochester’s more than 800 hourly union workers.

“GM is gearing up to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, and our Rochester workforce is eager to help,” Schumer said in the statement. “That kind of enthusiasm for serving the country and New York, which has 5 percent of cases worldwide, should not be ignored. GM’s Rochester plant is ready to go as soon as they get the word. In a fight against a pandemic where decisive action and speed is of utmost importance, there is no time to be wasted. I urge GM to locate its ventilator production at its Rochester plant, providing New York and the rest of the country with life-saving medical equipment ASAP.”

The push comes following GM’s March 20 announcement that it would be joining with Ventec Life Systems in order to produce ventilators needed to treat COVID-19 infected patients with respiratory complications. The partnership allows Ventec access to GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise, vastly increasing Ventec’s capacity to produce ventilators and send them to the coronavirus pandemic’s frontlines, officials said.

“Our community has always come together during times of crisis to help those in need—and we are ready to step up and do our part to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Morelle said. “GM’s Rochester plant is uniquely poised to produce much-needed ventilators and help save lives in our community and across the country. We need to utilize every resource available to address this public health emergency, which is why I urge GM to act swiftly and begin its ventilator production in Rochester immediately.”

GM has made more than $200 million in upgrades in recent years, making it the ideal spot to produce the ventilators, the senators noted.

“The women and men of UAW local 1097 are ready to help out in any way that we can to make life better during this pandemic. We will answer the call to produce medical equipment that is in short supply and so desperately needed at this time. Be assured we will do all in our power to help keep our community and our Nation safe during this global crisis,” said Dan Maloney, president of UAW Local 1097.

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Relief fund for direct-to-market farmers available soon

American Farmland Trust has created a relief fund to help farmers at the end of a domino effect caused by shooing people away from gathering and eating spots to prevent the spread of disease. 

The Farmer Relief Fund promises to provide cash grants of $1,000 each to farmers impacted by the disruption of local food systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants will be focused first on farms that sell at farmers markets or to restaurants, schools, stores, or foodmakers relying on farm products. 

“AFT is focused on calling immediate attention to the struggle of the farmers who have been suddenly cut off from their main sources of revenue or seen them reduced. We want to help by providing funds to bridge the gap,” said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO.  

Information about the The Farmer Relief Fund program is available online at  www.farmland.org/relief. The organization said it expected to post the application on the website later today. Applications are due by April 23, with first grants being made available starting on May 1. 

To start, the organization is limiting eligibility at first to small and mid-size direct-to-market producers, with annual gross revenue between $10,000 and $1 million. 

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