Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > COVID-19 > Gerald Johnson: Need to Protect Both Lives and Livelihood

Gerald Johnson: Need to Protect Both Lives and Livelihood

May 12, 2020

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to allow manufacturing to resume, General Motors Co. is currently transitioning its workforce back to work. Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson joined Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah in today’s Tele-Town Hall to share firsthand how the company pivoted to produce ventilators and its strategy in resuming operations.

GM is prepared to produce well over the 30,000 ventilators already committed, said Johnson, and expects to keep producing through the rest of this year. The company has also donated more than one million face masks to first responders and health care workers on the front lines.

“This is not a point of competition but a point of collaboration,” said Johnson on GM’s work with other OEMs to fulfill critical supply shortages.

GM’s unprecedented response to the personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages has helped the company prepare to return its employees to work. GM has worked in collaboration with Gov. Whitmer’s office, said Johnson, to build a robust safety protocol and has spent the past few weeks doing so.

“Our confidence is that we haven’t had any transmission of the virus inside our facilities,” said Johnson.

The primary defense used against the spread of the virus are face masks and ensuring employees understand the importance, said Johnson. This is crucial, especially in circumstances that don’t allow workers to remain six feet apart.

You need to protect lives and livelihood, said Johnson in his closing words. It’s essential that businesses and government do both moving forward.