Companies strive to help victims of COVID-19
May 4, 2020
As people struggle to adjust with the confinements of quarantine, hospitals are increasingly overwhelmed and undersupplied, while small businesses scrambled to keep afloat. Ultimately, COVID-19 has created one of the most disastrous financial and public health crises the world has ever seen.
In the face of this, governments aren’t the only ones taking unprecedented measures to contain the pandemic’s economic effects. As the impact of the virus quickly became apparent, some larger companies made financial commitments and offered innovative solutions to aid pandemic relief.
Between donating masks and hospital supplies to giving money for small business support, companies such as Visa and Facebook have contributed to relief efforts in a variety of different ways. Broadly, this reflects our nation’s instinct to solve problems and work together in a period of uncertainty.
As the world continues to struggle in the fight against the pandemic, the following companies have taken the initiative in contributing to a common goal of helping communities get back on their feet.
Subaru and Feeding America
This past month, Subaru of America teamed up with Feeding America to provide 50 million meals for the organization to donate nationwide. Their contribution to the organization is just one example of the many companies that are helping food banks respond to COVID-19.
Through this donation, Subaru hopes to give meals to 41 million Americans that currently struggle with hunger and food insecurity.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generous donation from Subaru, which will help every food bank in our network provide food to our neighbors in need. During this unprecedented time, the Feeding America nationwide network of 200 food banks is working tirelessly to respond to increased need in their communities,” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, said in a press release.
Although these donations can be made on a corporate level, every contribution, major or minor, helps. Donating or volunteering for organizations like Feeding America is of utmost importance during this time when low-income people and families are more vulnerable to hunger than ever.
The Visa Foundation committed $210 million towards small and micro-businesses to support them in aiding economic growth. They dedicated this commitment to two main programs: $10 million will go to immediate emergency COVID relief, while $200 million are designated towards a longer-term goal of protecting smaller businesses.
In total, this contribution aims to help small businesses that are directly affected by the current crisis.
“That [the grant] is something that will take the form primarily of impact investment, so it’s not just giving money away. It’s investing in partnerships that hopefully can scale to allow for even greater social impact over a longer period,” said Todd Fox, vice president at Visa.
Bank of America
Along with multiple other card issuers, Bank of America is taking precautions to make sure cardholders see financial reassurance during the outbreak. With its Clients Assistance Program, they are offering support to clients who need it on an individual level. Such assistance may include refunds such as overdraft fees and deferring credit card payments.
“We’re going to continue to provide convenient access to the important services they count on, and the additional assistance and support they need during this difficult period. Our priorities are taking care of our team and each other, and continuing to fulfill our fundamental role serving our clients,” Dean Athanasia, president of Consumer and Small Business at Bank of America, said in a press release.
Bank of America is just one of the hundreds of companies that have focused on providing their clients and those that are especially struggling with financial support.
Recognizing that the news industry is critical during this time of uncertainty and confusion, Facebook pledged $100 million aimed towards the media affected by COVID-19. Many news organizations face advertising drops while continuing local reporting, making them a financial target during this economic crisis.
With their Community Network Grant Program, $25 million of the donation will go towards local news through the Facebook Journalism Project. In comparison, the other $75 million will go towards news organizations worldwide.
This grant will offer news stations aid as they struggle with lacking revenues, and will keep journalists doing what they do best: informing during a time of uncertainty.
In response to hospitals that were short of supplies, Disney Park donated 150,000 rain ponchos to MedShare. This non-profit organization gathers supplies and redistributes them to needy hospitals throughout developing countries.
“We have to find ways to pool our resources and work together to help the healthcare workers who are doing their very best to treat patients and contain COVID-19,” said Charles Redding, MedShare CEO and President. “We appreciate Disney partnering with us to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines.”
In addition to donating ponchos, they have contributed over 100,000 masks to California, New York, and Florida, which were initially hit especially hard. As Disney closed down its parks and stores, its contributions aimed to give back to communities and individuals in any way they can.
Along with numerous other tech companies, Blue Origin is dedicating time, volunteers, and supplies to produce and deliver 3D printed face shield components. These components are then delivered to front line hospital workers who are especially at risk and in need of production.
Their efforts began with a simple discussion between workers on how they could fight to protect hospital employees. As an aerospace manufacturer, Blue Origin knew they had the resources and capabilities to use their machines for helping frontline workers.
We are proudly producing daily deliveries of 3D printed face shield components to help combat the COVID-19 crisis. Our additive machines are working 24/7, and the volunteers for this effort also support #BE4 engine development. We are grateful for their dedication. pic.twitter.com/GZUjA3TtRY
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) April 7, 2020
“These efforts have been critical to providing supplies for patients, hospital workers, and others. The industry which normally produces these items Tis not set up to produce the quantities required since the infection curve began to rise, so it was imperative that other industries and entities stepped up to fill this gap,” said Ben Laurence, the manager of additive manufacturing polymer for Blue Origin.
AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative
Amazon Web Services (AWS) began to focus their contributions towards research and the development of diagnostics as COVID-19 continued to spread. Ultimately seeking to flatten the curve of the pandemic, they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to support diagnostics for accelerated treatment and containment.
The program targets those that are working to bring more accurate and reliable diagnostic solutions while encouraging teamwork for organizations tackling similar issues. Hence, the initial $20 million investment gears towards accelerating research and pandemic response strategies.
“The world needs more and more private sector innovation to combat this pandemic. Amazon’s commitments and participation are very welcome, particularly since the lack of significant next-generation diagnostic tools remains a large gap in most health systems,” Steve Davis, a member of the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative’s technical advisory group, said in a statement.
A final word
Ultimately, these industries and many more quickly came to the aid of hospitals, staff, businesses, and researchers to make steps in fighting the impacts of COVID-19 and build back those burdened by the virus.
On a global scale, industries continue to shift their focus and put their efforts towards joining the fight against the pandemic in any way they see fit. This fight can be seen through their efforts in manufacturing low-stock supplies, donating money, and overall offering a cushion to prevent as much economic fallout as possible.
“In a crisis, when people are dying, losing their jobs, and economic insecurity is a big problem, it requires a response from all sectors of society. The government, of course, has a huge role to play, but so does the private sector,” Fox said.
In the end, these companies provide support to those who don’t seem to be getting enough of it. Whether directly or indirectly, their contributions are helping the nation overcome this crisis and limit its disastrous effects.
“Whether it’s a company, business, school, or a book club, members of each of these things are part of the same communities. We’ve all experienced the effects of this pandemic, and we should all do our best to limit the spread, at home and elsewhere, including places of work or school,” Laurence said.
During this time of adversity, our nation is beginning to see the teamwork and leadership that it desperately needs.
Methods of Contribution Infographic by Isabelle Nunes