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.
Michigan Reopens Some Businesses
Today Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26. The order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. And the order authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.
“This is great news for dealerships across the state,” says Doug North, president of North Brothers Ford in Westland. “We welcome the opportunity to serve our customers in a way that helps keep everyone safe from the showroom floor to the open road.”
The governor also signed a separate order, Executive Order 2020-97, updating a prior rule on workplace safety. Reopened outpatient health-care facilities, including clinics, primary care physician offices, and dental offices, will have to adopt strict protocols to prevent infection. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will issue guidance to aid those facilities in adopting appropriate safeguards.
In addition, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth — like a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief — when in any enclosed public space. Michiganders who are not working as critical infrastructure workers or at a business that has been authorized to reopen should stay home to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19.
To view EO 2020-96 and EO 2020-97, visit:
- EO 2020-96 Emerg order – MI Safe Start – re-issue.pdf
- EO 2020-97 Emerg order – Workplace safeguards – re-issue.pdf
Federal Government – COVID-19 Relief for Veterans
Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is coordinating the distribution of $6.4 million in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funding via the County Veteran Service Fund that will allow Michigan’s 550,000 veterans in participating counties to make vehicle and home repairs, pay medical expenses, buy groceries and personal care items and meet other needs.
“We will do everything in our power to support Michigan’s veterans and their families who are struggling financially because of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who often takes credit for the distribution of federal funds. “We’re encouraging counties to use these state-appropriated funds to provide direct relief for these brave men and women to help them put food on the table for their families, make essential repairs to their homes and vehicles, pay doctor bills, and meet other basic needs.”
As part of this effort, the MVAA has also teamed with Midwest retailer Meijer to provide $50 and $100 grocery vouchers to veterans in participating counties.
The emergency relief is available to counties that were previously approved for CVSF grants but now want to amend the grants to offer emergency relief directly to veterans. Some counties were slated to spend CVSF grants on veteran outreach and activities but were unable due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The emergency relief also is available to counties that either did not qualify or chose not to apply for CVSF grants.
Counties have the option of administering the CVSF-ER grant themselves or having MVAA act as their fiduciary and administer the funds directly to veterans on their behalf.
Health Alliance Plan in Detroit today announced several steps designed to provide financial relief and improve access to care for its members, including individual and Medicare Advantage members, as well as small business employers, all of whom have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HAP has extended its cost-sharing waiver for telehealth services through the end of the year. All cost-sharing is waived for HAP’s individual, fully insured employer group, Medicare, Medicaid, and MI Health Link members using telehealth services through Dec. 31, even if the service is not related to COVID-19. Self-insured employer group customers control their own health benefits, and HAP is working with its self-insured customers to determine how they will cover telehealth services.
For its individual members and small employer group customers, HAP will decrease monthly premiums by 5 percent through the end of the year. A small group is defined as an employer with fewer than 50 employees. These decreases will be reflected in monthly premium bills beginning July 1 and will be in effect through December 2020.
“Individuals and small business owners have been among the hardest hit economically during this pandemic,” says Dr. Michael Genord, president and CEO of HAP. “As a Michigan-based insurer, HAP is committed to helping the economic recovery efforts in Michigan as businesses and their employees attempt to return to normal operations. We want them to know that HAP is here for them during this unparalleled era in Michigan history.”
For its Medicare Advantage members, HAP will waive copays for all in-person primary care visits and behavioral health visits through the end of the year. In addition, HAP will waive all member cost-sharing for telehealth visits for its Medicare Advantage members through the end of the year. This means that HAP Medicare Advantage members will not be charged any copays, deductibles or co-insurance for telehealth visits made through Dec. 31, even if it is unrelated to COVID-19.
“Medicare members are an extremely vulnerable population,” says Genord. “Not only in relation to COVID-19, but because the majority of them have one or more chronic conditions that need to be managed. If left untreated, chronic conditions can become worse and result in further complications. HAP wants to make it as safe and easy as possible for members to see their doctor regularly – whether it be a traditional visit to a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office or through a telehealth visit. No one should be afraid to seek care when they need it. Waiving certain costs associated with doctor visits is one way we can encourage these members to get the care they need.”
Ford Fireworks Rescheduled to Aug. 31
The Parade Company and the city of Detroit announced the 2020 Ford Fireworks will take place on Monday, Aug. 31 as a televised-only show.
The broadcast on WDIV Local 4 will honor frontline workers and heroes of the COVID-19 crisis.
To ensure social distancing, Hart Plaza and other public spaces will not be open for viewing the show in person. Strict public safety guidelines will be communicated by state and city officials in the coming three months.
“Detroit is one of the most remarkable and resilient cities in America and we are proud to bring the Ford Fireworks to our community in a very special way this year,” says Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company. “We have an unwavering commitment to this tradition, which has brought us together as one for over six decades, and are grateful to Mayor Duggan, the city of Detroit, WDIV Local 4, and our many amazing partners who are joining efforts to make this possible.”
Produced by The Parade Company, the Ford Fireworks originally was scheduled for June 22.
“The valiant and selfless efforts of our health care workers and first responders has been one of the bright spots for our region during this very difficult time,” says Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Co. Fund. “The Ford Fireworks this year will honor them and their brave work.”
This year’s show is themed “We Are One Together.” The Parade Company’s Rooftop Party presented by Ford, one of the nonprofit’s largest fundraisers, will not take place this year.
In addition, a special radio simulcast will be hosted by Paul W. Smith on News/Talk 760 WJR.
Software Assistance for Michigan Wineries
The Michigan Wine Producers Association today announced a partnership with software company Movista to integrate its Project Health screening tool in member wineries.
Project Health, which will be implemented at production facilities and tasting room pinch points, is used to screen employees prior to beginning work each day.
“As Michigan’s wine industry begins planning to re-open tasting rooms to the public, we have to make sure our customers and guests know that our members are doing everything possible to ensure their safety,” says Mike Beck, president of MWPA and owner of Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns (south of Mount Pleasant). “Using this tool also allows us to help the state of Michigan make well-informed decisions by providing anonymous, aggregate health data.”
Project Health is a health screening platform that allows organizations to conduct health surveys and deliver specific directions based on responses. It also provides analysis and aggregate data for better decision making, such as identifying hot spots for symptoms. The platform utilizes a mobile app that is easily used by both employers and employees. By evaluating employee health prior to working, employers can keep at-risk workers away from the workplace, preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Assisted Living Roadmap for Governors
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living as released a “Long Term Care Workforce Roadmap for Governors and States,” outlining ways state public health officials can help nursing homes and assisted living communities address workforce needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the roadmap, AHCA/NCAL offers possible solutions to states to help increase the number of clinical and support staff, protect caregivers while they serve their residents, help caregivers get to work and stay safe in the larger community, and support specific long term care facilities dealing with cases.
“Our heroic health care workers in long term care have shown extraordinary commitment to their residents during this unprecedented time,” says Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “They deserve our respect and need ongoing support as they continue to battle this virus. Governors must take immediate action to help protect those currently on the frontlines and take proactive steps to recruit, train and deploy additional caregivers to ensure that residents continue to receive the daily care they need in our facilities. This is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation.”
Caregivers in long term care are rising to the challenge in responding to this threat; however, COVID-19 has resulted in increased demands on staff. Residents must be isolated from others while still receiving the high-quality daily care and services they require. Coupled with the fact that some staff are unable to work because they are sick, lack childcare options with schools and daycares closed or have to be quarantined themselves — in part a consequence of inadequate availability of personal protective equipment — a workforce shortage currently exists in long term care settings.
AHCA/NCAL anticipates additional workforce support will be needed as testing in long-term care facilities expands across the country and may identify staff members who are positive but asymptomatic. Additionally, with many states re-opening sectors of the economy, this increases the likelihood of staff members contracting the virus while out in the larger community. Residents in long term care facilities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and they require round-the-clock care and support from dedicated professionals.
The full “Long Term Care Workforce Roadmap for Governors and States” is available here.
Virtual Intern Experience Launches
For nearly a decade, the Detroit Intern Experience has hosted more than 3,500 interns and assisted hundreds of companies each summer with events and networking opportunities. This week, the experience goes virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional internship model, creating a need for digital content and ongoing virtual engagement. Companies are making the difficult decisions to cancel, downsize, or run their internships virtually. The “Virtual Intern Experience” is a solution that allows companies to build a relationship with, and offer ongoing value to, the interns that they have recruited for their own summer programs, while gaining an audience with numerous other talented students looking for insights and guidance for their future careers.
Detroit Intern Experience Founder Kerry Doman says she has secured sessions with some of the world’s top brands, executive leaders, and industry experts, to create a virtual experience that will deliver a curriculum of practical learning, professional development, financial literacy, and ongoing education to prepare our next generation for the workforce.
The program begins in June and costs to $100 per intern for all programming throughout the summer. For more information, visit here.
Advanced Manufacturing Expo Postponed Until July 2021
The Advanced Manufacturing Expo (AME) shows in Grand Rapids and metro Detroit, originally scheduled for the first week of August, has been postponed until the week of July 26, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After careful deliberation with our staff, partners, exhibitors, and experts, we made the difficult, but appropriate, decision to postpone the 2020 AME show,” says Mark Ermatinger, founder of AME. “Although Michigan’s manufacturing sector is returning to work and the situation appears to be improving pertaining to COVID-19 virus, there are still many valid concerns and challenges.”
The 2021 shows will take place both in Novi at the Suburban Collection Showplace and in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Place.
Virtual College Fair
Students interested in attending one of Michigan’s independent colleges and universities will have the opportunity to take part in a virtual college fair on May 26-28 to learn about options available to them.
This virtual career fair will give high school students a chance to meet with admissions representatives to learn about programs, resources, and the campuses of Michigan’s 25 independent colleges and universities since traditional college fairs have been unavailable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Michigan students need to know about the college opportunities that are available to them,” says Robert LeFevre, president of Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities. “This event makes sure high school students have the chance learn how Michigan’s independent colleges and universities can be the next step for them without leaving home.”
The event is open to high school sophomores and juniors, as well as graduating seniors who have not finalized college plans following graduation. The fair will take place on May 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 27 from 2 to 5 p.m., and May 28 from 5 to 7 p.m.
To register, visit here.
Sarah McClure, a member of the Detroit Historical Society Board of Trustees, and her husband, Chip, are providing support for the society’s effort to collect stories and artifacts from Detroit’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, cutting across social, economic and political lines. From health care heroes to business leaders, elected officials, and residents throughout the region, everyone has a story to tell,” says McClure. “Chip and I are supporting the project to ensure that the Detroit Historical Society has the resources it needs to be truly inclusive and expansive as it collects the many perspectives of our region.”
A wide-reaching and comprehensive oral history project, “Detroit Responds” is designed to collect real-time personal recollections from the full spectrum of people experiencing the pandemic in metropolitan Detroit.
“Nothing compares to the raw, emotional impact of stories captured in the moment,” says Joel Stone, senior curator of the Detroit Historical Society Senior Curator. “Throughout history, it is the real-time accounts of historic events that have been irreplaceable to future generations. As Detroit’s Historical Society, we take seriously our duty to collect the stories and artifacts that will help tomorrow’s Detroiters learn from our experiences during this time.”
Team Joseph Helps Duchenne MD Families
Commerce Township-based Team Joseph and 10 other Duchenne muscular dystrophy nonprofits are working together to ease the additional challenges Duchenne families are currently facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund is a part of the Duchenne Family Assistance Program, which offers financial assistance related to care and help for families who need access to recommended treatments and equipment, clinical care, and social services.
“The situation we are facing with COVID-19 is unprecedented, but so is the collaboration we are seeing among Duchenne organizations,” says Marissa Penrod, founder and CEO of Team Joseph. “We have been inundated with requests from families who are severely impacted by this crisis. As requests were coming in and we realized how great the needs are, I reached out to my colleagues at other Duchenne nonprofits and asked them to be a part of this. Within 48 hours, they had all pledged funding to ensure that, collectively, we could quickly help the Duchenne community that we all serve.”
Duchenne families already are challenged with caring for a child who is battling a rare disease. Often, this means their child is confined to a wheelchair and may suffer from breathing issues and cardiac problems. The stark reality is that every Duchenne child has underlying conditions.
To date, the program has provided more than $130,000 in funds for Duchenne families who are uniquely impacted by the pandemic. The funds can be used for essential needs such as living expenses, groceries and utilities.
There is a fundraising goal of $250,000 due to the expectation that the need for assistance will continue into the summer and fall. More than $150,000 has been committed so far, but additional donations are still needed.
To contribute, please visit here.
Focus:HOPE Continues its Work
Detroit nonprofit Focus:HOPE has ramped up its services to low-income seniors and home-bound adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization says it has 1,407 newly enrolled seniors that it is serving, assisted by 625 crisis response volunteers.
Focus:HOPE staff are providing students and families with virtual home visits, during which they provide educational activities as well as wraparound support services, including coordination to partner organizations for emergency relief. It also is providing basic needs support, including baby essentials packages and food boxes, through coordination with organizational partners including Higher Hopes and Gleaners Community Food Bank.
Since the pandemic began, the organization has delivered 1,099 baby essential packages worth $32,970 and 951 family food packages valued at $31,128.
The group is continuing its mission of preparing people for the workforce although it is doing so virtually. Thirty-one students currently are enrolled in virtual training and 42 students have graduated from the virtual training program.
Focus:HOPE also has assisted 160 people with their unemployment insurance claims.
For more information and to contribute, visit here.
Roseville Estate Auction Company Launches Website
Stefek’s Auctioneers and Appraisers, a full-service estate liquidation management company based in Roseville, is launching a new website that enables them to serve clients and customers worldwide.
The new website, stefeksauctions.com, allows visitors to bid on live auction items, purchase items securely from its new buy-it-now site, view upcoming estate sales, and make arrangements with Stefek’s to provide various professional services. These include appraisals of personal property, estate sales, and clean-out services to liquidate and prepare the home for sale.
The website also lists details on upcoming estate sales.
Stefek’s newest online auction goes live Thursday, May 28, at 6 p.m. through a link to LiveAuctioneers.com. The May 28 auction features a collection of salesman sample machinery, including miniature functional machines, vintage and antique Michigan license plates, several colorful swirl agate slag glass gear shift knobs, and more. Other unique collectibles will be available for bidding and purchase.
Visit here for more information.