COVID-19 Update: American Cancer Society Launches New Virtual Gala, Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Begins at Henry Ford Health, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Daily coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

American Cancer Society Launches New Gala

The American Cancer Society has announced the launch of its new gala, the Night of Discovery, which will be led by co-chairs Karen and Matt Cullen and Mary and Tom Shafer, and will bring together corporate and community leaders across Detroit to support the work of the society.

The event will take place Thursday, Nov. 12, virtually, with the pre-show starting at 6:30 p.m. and the event program airing live at 7 p.m. It will feature live entertainment, a silent auction, and other opportunities to fund the mission of the American Cancer Society. The gala will be open to the general public for viewing, with special VIP experiences for sponsors and donors.

“Cancer hasn’t stopped for COVID-19, so neither can we,” says Karen Cullen, wife of the executive chairman of JACK Entertainment. “The reality is that cancer patients cannot wait for a more convenient time. They are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to treatment, support and services. In fact, a recent ACS study showed that 79 percent of cancer patients in active treatment report delays in care due to the pandemic. They are counting on ACS to continue its important work and ACS is counting on us to fuel that work.”

The Night of Discovery will support the American Cancer Society’s investment in cancer research, patient services, and cancer prevention efforts, both locally and across the nation. During the pandemic, ACS has provided a free place to stay for frontline health care workers at Hope Lodge facilities across the country, provided information and resources to cancer patients to help navigate COVID-19, and fought for policies that will help ease the increased burden created by the pandemic for cancer patients.

In Michigan, the society currently is funding 17 research grants totaling $9.2 million at local research institutions, including three grants specifically focused on health equity. Additionally, ACS has continued fueling its local health equity work in partnership with community organizations in Detroit and throughout southeast Michigan. This work includes a grant in partnership with the NFL at the Wellness Plan in Detroit to support breast health equity for un- and under-insured women, a partnership with Meals on Wheels in Macomb County to bring take-home colorectal screening tests to homebound seniors, and a colorectal screening partnership with Michigan State University and Greater Holy Temple church to distribute colorectal screening FIT kits in coordination with water distribution efforts in Flint.

This work is all made possible by generous donations from individuals and corporations but is in jeopardy due to the pandemic. Because of funding challenges, the society is at risk of cutting cancer research funding by 50 percent this year – representing its lowest investment in this century.

“This year offers a unique opportunity for sponsors – every dollar makes a greater impact on the Society’s mission than ever before,” says Tom Shafer, president and COO of TCF Bank. “We salute the companies and individuals who have already committed to the event and challenge others to do the same.”

For more information about Night of Discovery and corporate sponsorship opportunities, call 248-663-3401 or visit here.

First COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Volunteers in Michigan Receive Shots at Henry Ford Health

The first COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers in Michigan received their initial shots Wednesday, in an effort to help find a safe, effective vaccine to the deadly coronavirus.

Henry Ford Health System is the first hospital system in Michigan to administer a COVID-19 vaccine study. HFHS is the only Phase 3 trial site for the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study in the state.

“This is a historic moment,” says Dr. Marcus Zervos, division chief of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System. “A vaccine is our best hope in the fight against COVID-19, and we’re glad to be a part of bringing this opportunity to the Midwest.”

Henry Ford is enrolling volunteers into this randomized double-blind study of whether a two-dose vaccine prevents COVID-19 infection in those exposed to the coronavirus. About 90 health care systems across the United States are working competitively to enroll a total of 30,000 volunteers to participate in the Moderna vaccine study. The study will close to volunteers once 30,000 people are enrolled. Visit here to enroll.

Currently, Michigan sites for enrollment are located in Detroit at the Henry Ford Hospital Emergency Department (with a separate entrance), Henry Ford’s headquarters at 1 Ford Place in Midtown Detroit, and at the HAP building (home to the Employee Health clinic) across the street from the main hospital.

The study’s first two phases involving more than 600 participants found the vaccine to be safe. Phase 2 showed the vaccine helped produce antibodies. Phase 3 will determine whether that helps protect against COVID-19.

Typical vaccines for viruses are made from a weakened or inactive virus, but the mRNA-1273 study vaccine is not made from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is made from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), a genetic code that tells cells how to make protein. In this case, the protein is a small part of the virus that is thought to help the body’s immune system make antibodies to fight the virus.  However, people may still become infected with SARS-CoV-2 in their everyday activities, despite receiving the study’s two shots.

All study participants will have a 50 percent chance of receiving the study vaccine or placebo, a sterile saline solution that does not contain any active vaccine. Anyone age 18 or older who is not immune-compromised, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant can volunteer for the study, as long as they have not had COVID-19 or another vaccine or treatment. Researchers are particularly interested in recruiting:

  • Those at high risk of COVID-19 infection, defined as adults whose locations or circumstances put them at greater risk of exposure to the virus responsible for COVID-19,
  • Adults who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 based on age of 65 years or older
  • Adults who are at high risk due to pre-existing medical conditions that are stable at the time of screening.

TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp Issues Call for Future Brick-and-mortar Business Owners

TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp, which starts Sept. 1 and goes through Nov. 10, is a 10-week program that prepares serious entrepreneurs for the opening of their brick-and-mortar establishments in the city of Detroit.

The program curriculum is designed to strengthen businesses from pop-up stage to permanent location as they look to thrive in today’s retail environment.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s classes will take place virtually every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m.

“Over the years, Retail Boot Camp has supported entrepreneurs in opening brick-and-mortar locations throughout Detroit, bringing products and services to Detroit residents and visitors,” says Sarah Donnelly, retail services director at TechTown Detroit. “This is not about opening the brick-and-mortar location of yesterday. This program helps entrepreneurs think through how to open a location that will service customers how and when they want these days–which is always changing. We look forward to continuing the focus of operating an omni-channel retail operation.”

Retail Boot Camp covers:

  • Developing quality retail operations and routines.
  • Designing impactful visual merchandising.
  • Selling through virtual and in-person customer service.
  • Selecting point-of-sale and e-commerce system.
  • Understanding pricing and inventory mix.
  • Identifying startup costs and funding sources.
  • Selecting a permanent location based on market data.
  • Navigating brick-and-mortar regulations with legal guidance.
  • Utilizing an architect for the design-build process.
  • Developing crisis and store management practices.

Participants must have evidence of previous retail activity, such as pop-up or e-commerce transactions, trunk shows, job experience, and must be intending to locate their business in Detroit within 12 months of graduation.

After completion of the course, all entrepreneurs will pitch and five will win a $5,000 kickstart award. All receive post-grad coaching.

Applications are open until Aug. 9 and can be found here. The program fee upon acceptance is $499. If needed, payment plans can be arranged.

Area Organizations Get Federal Funds to House Survivors of Human Trafficking

Two local organizations were among the recipients of a total of $35 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants awarded to organizations that provide safe, stable housing to survivors of human trafficking.

The Michigan recipients were the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park ($499,972) and Michigan Alternatives for Girls in Detroit ($500,000).

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, combating human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad is critical work,” says Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president, who made the announcement along with Attorney General Bill Barr. “DOJ’s grant recipients are on the frontlines of this fight, ensuring that survivors across our country are afforded safe and stable housing and empowered with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives.”

The grants, which went to 73 organizations across the U.S., provide six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance for trafficking victims, including rental, utilities or related expenses, such as security deposits and relocation costs. The grants also will provide funding for support needed to help victims locate permanent housing, secure employment, and receive occupational training and counseling.

For a state-by-state breakdown of grant recipients, visit here.

Community Housing Network Assists Thousands Facing Eviction in Oakland County

The Troy-based Community Housing Network is Oakland County’s largest housing assistance nonprofit and fields thousands of calls as county residents face the risk of eviction after the state’s mandated eviction moratorium was lifted in mid-July.

“We knew that when the pandemic started and the eviction moratorium and mortgage foreclosures went up, that many people wouldn’t understand that they would have a back-up of unpaid rent payments at the end of that time period,” says Kirsten Elliot, vice president of development for Community Housing Network. “Now, there are thousands of individuals and families who have lost jobs or been out of work, with eviction notices and no way to catch back up.”

Lisa Chapman, CHN’s director of community programs and outreach, says the organization has received grant funds as a United Way partner agency to help with rental housing assistance in some cases. Others are guided through the Eviction Diversion Program process.”

CHN also is helping by guiding individuals through Oakland County’s Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Relief Program. Residents who have fallen behind on their rent, mortgage, or utility payments because of a lost job or other income reduction due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a one-time grant of up to $15,000 per household.

The program is for eligible Oakland County residents with a certain income level and will pay up to three months of past-due rent, mortgage, and utility bills as a result of a temporary job loss, reduction in work hours or other income hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and to donate, visit here.

Hatch Detroit and Comerica Bank Launch Small Business Alumni Relief Fund

Comerica Bank and Hatch Detroit have launched the Hatch Detroit Small Business Alumni Relief Fund to support alumni businesses of the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest that have been financially affected by COVID-19.

Comerica Bank has pitched in with $100,000 to fund the effort, which provides utility assistance for more than 40 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest alumni businesses that have opened since the inaugural contest in 2011.

“Hatch Detroit remains actively engaged with its contest alumni, providing business support far beyond the funding presented to the contest winner each year,” says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. “As we’ve contemplated how to help our alumni businesses, it became clear there are not many specific opportunities for small businesses to apply for utility assistance, and this is often a burden as revenues stop flowing but the bills continue to roll in. We’re thrilled to partner with Comerica on this first $100,000 of funding, and hopeful other corporations and foundations will step up to contribute as well.”

The new fund, the first of its kind to support utility assistance, replaces the annual Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest in 2020. Hatch Detroit will continue to seek additional funds to provide further support to its small business network.

Businesses, consumers, and foundations who wish to aid in Hatch Detroit’s mission of supporting independent retail businesses through funding, education, exposure, and mentoring can donate to the nonprofit by visiting here.

In addition, Comerica has invested an additional $50,000 to provide organizational support to Hatch Detroit in 2020.

Domino’s Opens First Store in Croatia

Domino’s Pizza Inc., the largest pizza company in the world based on global retail sales, is continuing its global growth by opening of the brand’s first store in Zagreb, Croatia.

The store is owned and operated by master franchisee Nills Gornall, CEO of All About Pizza.

Domino’s in Zagreb features the pizza theater design, which has seating and a front-row view to watch all the action of pizza-making. A second location will open in Zagreb, with additional locations planned for next year.

“We are honored to have our master franchisees building beautiful pizza theater stores in countries all over the world and attracting new customers to our dynamic brand,” says Joe Jordan, executive vice president of international for Domino’s.

Domino’s operates in more than 90 markets worldwide, with more than half of its global retail sales coming from international stores.