Amazon, Apple among the companies that are helping Americans fight COVID-19

Amazon, Apple among the companies that are helping Americans fight COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created both public health and economic crises of historic proportions in the United States. Governments, at the state and federal levels, are taking unprecedented measures to contain the virus and the economic fallout. Given the magnitude of the problem, efforts for the public sector alone are not likely to be sufficient – and many companies have stepped up in recent weeks to aid in the relief effort in a variety of different ways.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed press releases and media reports to find companies that are helping Americans right now. While this list of 30 companies is by no means exhaustive, it emphasizes the diversity of industries becoming involved and the wide range of actions being taken. We avoided adding companies to this list that are directly profiting financially from their COVID-19 relief efforts.

The companies on this list span a range of industries such as insurance, manufacturing, technology, e-commerce, food and beverage, and fashion. Some of these companies are offering consumers free access to their core product or service. Others are donating millions of dollars to causes related to COVID-19 relief. Others, still, are shifting their operations, putting their systems and capabilities to work to produce or procure essential products in the fight against coronavirus.

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These efforts are typically costing the companies on this list something upfront, though many are also going to benefit from this investment by producing necessary products, for example. For others, having their name tied to a good cause means they might not only benefit financially, but also could stand to benefit from a PR standpoint. In fact, several companies on this list have been rocked by scandals in recent years and are in dire need of a PR boost.

Companies' coronavirus efforts

1. 3M

• Industry: Manufacturing

• Headquarters: St. Paul, Minnesota

One of the companies that manufactures the N95 respirator masks that can better protect health care workers from the coronavirus is 3M. The masks are in short supply at hospitals nationwide and around the globe, and 3M doubled its global output of the respirators during the pandemic. Working with the Trump Administration, the company also announced it will import 166.5 million masks over the next three months, largely from its manufacturing plant in China so it could continue to export U.S.-made masks to Canada and Latin America.

3M.

2. Alibaba

• Industry: E-commerce

• Headquarters: Hangzhou, China

Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce, entertainment, and cloud computing company. Through its charitable foundation, the company is donating 500,000 test kits and a million face masks to the United States.

3. Amazon

• Industry: E-commerce

• Headquarters: Seattle, Washington

Recent news about e-commerce giant Amazon has been largely negative following the firing of a Staten Island employee who had been attempting to organize a protest over warehouse working conditions. However, the company is also setting aside $7 million to support American communities in need during the crisis and helping to deliver test kits.

4. American Family Insurance

• Industry: Insurance

• Headquarters: Madison, Wisconsin

American Family Insurance is sending its customers $50 per vehicle insured under one of the company's policies. As more than 300 million Americans are being urged or ordered to stay at home by state and local lawmakers, fewer people are on the roads, meaning fewer accidents and lower costs for insurance companies. American Family Insurance anticipates returning around $200 million to its customers at a time when widespread layoffs mean many Americans are struggling financially.

Apple.

5. Apple

• Industry: Consumer electronics

• Headquarters: Cupertino, California

Tech giant Apple has sourced, and procured, 20 million masks. At least 10 million of them have been donated to health care workers across the United States, according to a statement from CEO Tim Cook. Multiple state governors thanked Cook, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Apple sent 1.9 million of the masks to New York, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. The company is also designing medical face masks.

6. Audible

• Industry: Audiobooks

• Headquarters: Newark, New Jersey

Audible, an audiobook streaming company, is one of several on this list giving away its core product for free. As children across the country are out of school, the company is not charging to stream a collection of educational and entertaining children's literature.

7. Bacardi

• Industry: Alcoholic beverages

• Headquarters: Hamilton, Bermuda

Bacardi's core business is alcoholic beverages, but in the midst of a pandemic, it is using its resources to produce badly needed hand sanitizer. As of late March, the company had committed to supplying enough alcohol to produce over a quarter million gallons of hand sanitizer. Much of it will be donated to local organizations and emergency workers.

8. Bank of America

• Industry: Banking

• Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina

Bank of America, along with several other consumer banks, is taking measures to accommodate its customers who may be financially struggling as unemployment rates spike across the country. The bank is refunding overdraft fees, deferring mortgage payments and issuing refunds for late fees, and suspending foreclosures, evictions, and repossessions. With about $1.8 trillion in assets, Bank of America is one of the largest banks in the United States.

9. Beyond Meat

• Industry: Food

• Headquarters: El Segundo, California

Beyond Meat, a plant-based food company, has pledged to donate and distribute over 1 million of the company's vegetarian Beyond Meat burgers to places like hospitals and food banks. The company's pledge comes at a time when many Americans struggle to afford or access healthy meals.

Casetify.

10. Casetify

• Industry: Consumer electronics accessories

• Headquarters: Hong Kong

Casetify makes cases and accessories for phones, smartwatches, AirPods, and other tech products. The company is selling a UV sanitizer for phones and donating 100% of the proceeds to a coronavirus relief organization. Though there is no way to test its effectiveness on COVID-19, Casetify claims the sanitizer kills 99.9% of germs.

11. Cisco Systems

• Industry: Technology

• Headquarters: San Jose, California

Cisco Systems is one of the largest companies in America. The tech company pledged $225 million in aid – $8 million in cash and $210 million worth of products – to organizations like the U.N. and WHO that are aiming to "prevent, detect, and manage the spread" of the virus.

12. Costco

• Industry: Groceries

• Headquarters: Issaquah, Washington

Costco recently began limiting how many people could be in its stores at one time. To reward essential workers who are putting themselves at risk during the crisis, the company announced in early April that it would give first responders and health care workers first admittance into its warehouse stores. Paramedics, firefighters, and health care workers with proof of their position are able to cut the line.

13. Facebook

• Industry: Social media

• Headquarters: Menlo Park, California

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company would be investing $100 million in grants to help journalists continue their mission during the pandemic – $25 million will go to the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million will go to marketing news organizations.

In the past, the company has been widely criticized by journalists and others for a number of reasons, including censorship and the way its targeted news feed narrows users' experience.

14. Fanatics

• Industry: Apparel

• Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida

Apparel manufacturer Fanatics makes official jerseys for major sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, among other gear. With the season pushed back, however, the company is using its materials and manufacturing facility to create single-use masks and gowns for health care professionals. Fanatics is hoping to make close to a million masks and gowns, which will be distributed for free to hospitals in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

Ford.

15. Ford

• Industry: Auto

• Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan

President Donald Trump tweeted on March 22 that automakers Ford, GM, and Tesla were "being given the go ahead to make ventilators" and other medical devices to help with the pandemic. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said the company was already doing that. Ford said it would work with 3M to put together hundreds of thousands of face shields, as well as respirators, and with General Electric to help assemble ventilators.

As physical distancing guidelines went into place and the demand for cars cratered, Ford halted auto manufacturing in some plants on March 20, and the closures could extend into May.

16. Google

• Industry: Technology

• Headquarters: Mountain View, California

Google is using its position as America's most popular search engine to help keep communities informed and help smaller businesses survive the economic crunch caused by the virus. The tech giant pledged $800 million worth of aid, though it should be noted much of this is in the form of ad space the company could otherwise be profiting from, not direct donations.

Google also offered the World Health Organization and government agencies a quarter of a billion dollars worth of ad space that would inform the public about the coronavirus and how to limit its spread. It is also offering $340 million in ad credits to select small and medium businesses.

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17. HBO

• Industry: TV

• Headquarters: New York, New York

As Americans are encouraged or ordered to stay in their homes, HBO is helping them fill up the time by offering some of its most popular movies, TV series, and documentaries for free. Anyone, even those without a subscription, can stream classics like "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Veep," and more through the end of April.

18. Hertz

• Industry: Car rental

• Headquarters: Estero, Florida

New York City is the hardest-hit place in America by the coronavirus, and many health care workers in the city struggled to get to their jobs as public transit became unsafe. Hertz decided to use its idle rental cars to fill that gap, offering these workers free car rentals throughout April in the city. Hertz is also lending Mount Sinai Health System free cargo van rentals to transport ventilators and other supplies.

19. Johnson & Johnson

• Industry: Consumer goods

• Headquarters: New Brunswick, New Jersey

Johnson & Johnson will donate 10,000 sets of goggles to health care workers in its home state of New Jersey. It has also pledged $50 million to various organizations aiding frontline health care workers who are researching the virus and treating patients. J&J and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority committed to spend over $1 billion to try to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Kroger.

20. Kroger

• Industry: Groceries

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

Many grocery stores and distribution center workers have demanded increased compensation as they continue to work as essential employees. Kroger has agreed to a $2 per hour hazard pay raise. The grocery chain has also begun equipping stores with partitions at registers and shortening store hours to give employees time to restock and rest. The company, which saw same-store sales jump 30% compared to February, also donated $3 million to food banks.

21. Loom

• Industry: Technology

• Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Loom's software allows users to make videos by capturing their screen, webcam, and microphone and instantly share the recording. In response to the outbreak, the company made its Loom Pro service free to all educators forever, not just during the pandemic, giving them better tools to teach students from afar. The company also removed recording limits on its free plan, extended free trials, and halved the price of Loom Pro for non-educators.

22. New England Patriots

• Industry: Sports

• Headquarters: Foxborough, Massachusetts

With sports leagues in America having halted play because of the pandemic, the New England Patriots put their idle plane to good use. Team owner Robert Kraft and his son and team president Jonathan Kraft worked with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to purchase 1.2 million masks in early April, sending the team's plane to pick them up from China. Kraft and his family paid $2 million to buy these masks as well as another shipment of half a million more masks, 300,000 of which were sent to New York City.

23. Nike

• Industry: Sporting goods and apparel

• Headquarters: Beaverton, Oregon

Nike converted portions of its factories to make face shields and air-purifying respirators. The sporting goods and apparel giant worked with Oregon Health & Science University to repurpose padding, cords, and shoe soles into personal protective equipment that was donated to the university beginning in April.

24. PepsiCo

• Industry: Food

• Headquarters: Purchase, New York

Food and beverage company PepsiCo put together a $45 million support package to help distribute goods to communities facing especially difficult challenges with the pandemic. The company said the money will be used to provide meals, protective equipment, and other services. The company will also match employee donations to nonprofits aiding in coronavirus relief throughout April, up to $2 million.

Ralph Lauren.

25. Ralph Lauren

• Industry: Apparel

• Headquarters: New York, New York

Fashion and apparel company Ralph Lauren has pledged $10 million to coronavirus relief. Additionally, the company is producing at least a quarter million face masks, as well as 25,000 isolation gowns for health care workers.

26. Tesla

• Industry: Auto

• Headquarters: Palo Alto, California

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced his company would ship its spare FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals for free. There was some confusion about these devices, however. While hospitals are short on invasive ventilators that help people breathe and push oxygen into the lungs via a tube, Tesla has sent non-invasive ventilators known as BPAP machines. While not ideal for treating COVID-19 patients, these devices could still be useful. The automaker is now developing a prototype ventilator using car parts.

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27. U-Haul

• Industry: Transportation

• Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

As college campuses across the country closed down, many students were left with nowhere to put their belongings. Moving company U-Haul stepped in to help, offering students displaced by the coronavirus a month of free storage at company-owned storage facilities.

28. Uber

• Industry: Ride sharing

• Headquarters: San Francisco, California

As ride sharing has been all but phased out by physical distancing limitations, Uber is finding ways for its drivers to help during the pandemic. The company said it will provide 10 million free rides and food deliveries to "health care workers, seniors and people in need" across the world. It will also use its Uber Eats delivery service to provide 300,000 free meals to first responders and health care workers. The company has also waived delivery fees for independent restaurants to help keep those businesses afloat.

29. Uniqlo

• Industry: Apparel

• Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

Japanese clothing manufacturer and retailer is putting its expertise to use to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. Through its manufacturing facilities in China, the company is producing 10 million protective face masks – at least 1 million of which will be donated to American hospitals, according to a statement from the company.

Wells Fargo.

30. Wells Fargo

• Industry: Banking

• Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Wells Fargo was in need of a public relations boost after its role in the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 and its fake account scandal from 2016. Now, it is offering one of the more expansive COVID-19 relief packages among banks – pausing all evictions and auto repossessions and offering some fee waivers and deferred payments to customers on an individual basis. The bank's foundation will also donate $175 million to help public health, housing, and food efforts.

24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/21/companies-that-are-helping-americans-fight-covid-19/111565368/

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