COVID-19 Update: Business Leaders React to Whitmer Order, Ford Halts International Production, Bedrock Offers Tenants Rent Forgiveness, and More

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest announcements from our region, state, federal government, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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Michigan coronavirus map
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 22

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest announcements from our region, state, federal government, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message here.

Business Leaders React to Governor’s Order
Business Leaders for Michigan, a private, nonprofit organization based in Detroit, has issued a statement supporting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.

“Business Leaders for Michigan recognizes that we are experiencing a public health emergency that is unprecedented in our lifetime,” the statement says. “The first priority in a situation like this has to be to protect the public’s health and safety.

“The action the Governor took today will impact all of us but was necessary to ensure that all Michiganders have the best opportunity to remain healthy through this crisis. We understand that the economic impacts of this period will be painful for Michigan’s residents and businesses, and we stand ready to help the Governor and our state manage both the mitigation process and the recovery that will follow.

“To that end, Business Leaders for Michigan has established a website that provides business a compendium of best practices they can use to mitigate the impact of the crisis on their business and employees at www.blmcovid19.com. We encourage all businesses in Michigan to take advantage of this resource which we will be continually updating.”

Ford Production
Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. is temporarily suspending vehicle and engine production at its International Markets Group manufacturing sites in response to the growing impact of the coronavirus. The suspensions began Saturday and will continue for several weeks depending on the pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints, and dealer stock requirements.

“The health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers, partners and communities is our highest priority,” says Mark Ovenden, president, International Markets Group. “We are continuing to act in real time and taking added safety measures by temporarily halting production at our manufacturing sites in the international markets.”

The last working day per market is as follows:

  • March 21: India — Chennai Vehicle Assembly Plant, Sanand Vehicle Assembly Plant, Sanand Engine Plant and Chennai Engine Plant.
  • March 26: Vietnam — Ford Vietnam Limited Haiduong Assembly Plant.
  • March 27: Thailand — Ford Motor Company (Thailand) Limited.
  • March 27: South Africa – Silverton Assembly Plant (Pretoria) and Struandale Engine Plant (Port Elizabeth).

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Restrictions
Since Saturday at midnight, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel has implemented travel restrictions that will be in place for the next 30 days to combat the spread of COVID-19. They include:

  • All commercial and work-related travel will continue unimpeded, while entry for purposes such as tourism and recreation is not permitted at this time.
  • While discretionary travel is being restricted, movements necessary to keep the economy moving and supply chains open will not be affected.
  • This means that commercial vehicles carrying legitimate goods will be allowed entry, as well as people crossing the border for work.
  • Border crossings by healthy people for essential non-economic reasons are also allowed, such as medical or compassionate reasons, provided they have not been outside the United States or Canada in the previous 14 days.
  • Indigenous peoples who live near the Canada/U.S. border are still able to cross the border as usual.
  • The Canada Border Services Agency has implemented enhanced health screening measures, and border officers are querying travelers on the state of their health and observing for signs of respiratory infection. Protocols provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to be followed, including advice to self-isolate and practice social distancing.
  • Canadians and permanent residents can cross the border to return home and will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation does not apply to people who must cross the border for work and are not showing symptoms.
  • As a reminder, DWT is not currently accepting cash from Detroit to Windsor. Travelers will be able to pay via their Nexpress account, which can be opened here; by credit card on readers mounted on the exterior of each tollbooth; or by the DWT mobile app.
  • The Transit Windsor’s tunnel bus service has suspended service for now.

Real Estate
Bedrock today announced it will waive all rent, expenses, and parking fees for restaurants and retail tenants that qualify as small businesses for the months of April, May, and June in order to help these businesses weather this time of uncertainty and allow them to use their resources to pay other bills and meet payroll commitments.

This decision was made in the wake of the spread of COVID-19 and sweeping effects of recent government guidelines for community safety and preparedness.

“As with all of our tenants, entrepreneurs and small businesses play an incredibly important role in our local economy, which has been central to Dan Gilbert’s vision over the last 10 years of his investments in Detroit and Cleveland,” says Matt Cullen, CEO of Bedrock. “It is going to take the entire community to mitigate the effects of this pandemic on the region, and we are happy to do our part to help our portfolio’s most vulnerable businesses weather the storm. We are staying in close contact with each of our tenants and stakeholders every day to understand their needs and concerns, and how we can help.”

Bedrock is joined by several nonprofit organizations and government agencies, including its partners at the Quicken Loans Community Fund, who also have rolled out relief programs for small businesses. To help connect its tenants and other local businesses with these opportunities, bedrockdetroit.com now is home to a Resource Guide that will be continuously updated as new programs become available.

COVID-19 Business Webinar
Detroit’s Butzel Long is hosting a free webinar from 12-1 p.m. on Tuesday to address key issues impacting employers. To register, visit www.butzel.com/events. Butzel Long attorneys will discuss legal issues involved in workforce reductions and cost-saving efforts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as best practices.

Hospitals
Ascension Michigan has established COVID-19 triage areas near all of its emergency departments. This includes: Ascension Macomb-Oakland, Warren Campus, Ascension Macomb-Oakland in Madison Heights, Ascension St. John Hospital, Ascension River District, Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital, Ascension Providence Novi Hospital and Ascension Providence Southfield Hospital. Triage areas have been set up as part of Ascension’s emergency preparedness protocol. These measures are being put in place to help distance individuals with a concern about COVID-19 exposure from the rest of our patient population, staff, and health care providers.

For the safety of all people, if a person believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, they should call their health care provider immediately for instructions.

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit here or call ​833-981-0738​.

To help protect the health and safety of its patients, families, health care staff, and providers from the spread of COVID-19, Ascension Michigan is enforcing patient visitor restrictions for all of its hospitals and ambulatory sites. ​No visitors are permitted at Ascension Michigan hospitals except for:

  • One visitor permitted for support of activities of daily living like bathing or eating for pediatric (under 21) and special needs patients
  • One visitor for a surgery patient
  • One visitor for a hospice patient
  • One visitor for patients at the end of life
  • One visitor for patients in serious or critical condition
  • One birth partner (as well as a doula if participating in the birth)
  • One visitor required to make a decision on behalf of the patient (patient’s medical
  • durable power of attorney, court appointed guardianship)
  • No visitors are permitted at Ascension ambulatory (outpatient) sites except for
  • One accompanying person that is necessary to support the delivery of care to the patient
  • One accompanying person for a surgery patient
  • One accompanying person for patients in serious condition
  • One birth partner (as well as a doula if participating in the birth)

Any visitor meeting the above criteria must pass a health screening before entering any Ascension Michigan facility.

Medical
BioReference Laboratories Inc., an OPKO Health company in New Jersey, today announced a collaboration with the City of Detroit to provide coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing. The company will provide COVID-19 testing at drive-through locations for Detroit residents by appointment.

BioReference Laboratories is accepting specimens for COVID-19 testing from healthcare providers, clinics, and health systems throughout Detroit and the United States to promote earlier diagnosis of the coronavirus and to aid in limiting spread of infection. The turnaround on testing is 24 hours to 48 hours.

The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) established a COVID-19 hotline for anyone with questions regarding the virus. DMC COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-DMC-3370.

Providers should refer to the most current CDC guidelines for further information on appropriate testing of patients, available here.

Medical Supplies
Beaumont Health in Southfield is requesting donations of medical supplies and equipment as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to climb.

“We have heard from people all over Michigan who want to donate medical supplies, equipment, and money to help with Beaumont’s efforts to protect our staff and care for our patients,” says Margaret Cooney Casey, senior vice president and chief development officer at  Beaumont Health. “We are so grateful for all the community members who are pitching in to help. And, we’re pleased that we can coordinate all the donations now at one location and disperse them to the areas of greatest need throughout Beaumont Health.”

Effective immediately, Beaumont will accept donations of items listed below at the Beaumont Service Center, 26901 Beaumont Blvd., in Southfield. This is the only location where Beaumont will accept COVID-19 donations.

Donation bins will be located outside the Beaumont Service Center main entrance through Saturday, March 28. Community members will be able to drive up and place needed supplies and materials in the bins 24/7.

Most-Needed Personal Protective Equipment:

  • New or unused disposable face masks
  • N-95 mask (sometimes called respirators)
  • Eye protection including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves (especially non-latex)
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes: bleach or anti-microbial
  • Hand-sanitizer
  • Specialized items
  • PAPRs (powered air purifying respirators) and PAPR hoods
  • Nasal testing swabs
  • Viral testing kits

Items Beaumont will not accept at this time:

  • Home-sewn reusable masks or 3-D printed ventilator parts
  • Medications, food, blankets, medical equipment, or other supplies
  • Note: These kinds of items might be needed later. If Beaumont’s donation needs change, the list will be updated.

Receipts will be available online at www.beaumont.org/giving.

For bulk donations and pick-up, call: Scott Maglott at 248-551-9392 or Rick Porzadek at 248-441-9391.

Donors who are not feeling well should wait until they are well before donating supplies or equipment.

To make a financial donation to Beaumont’s COVID-19 Fund to assist patients and emergency operations, visit www.beaumont.org/giving or mail a check to the Beaumont Health Foundation (Please write COVID-19 Fund on your check).

Beaumont Health Foundation
26901 Beaumont Blvd., 5D
Southfield, MI  48033

Questions? Please contact The Beaumont Health Foundation:  947-522-0100, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Employment
Walmart is providing a special cash bonus for its hourly associates for their dedication to serving customers in a time of an unprecedented national health crisis. The bonus is for all U.S. hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain, and offices. The bonus will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates and will add up to more than $365 million. Every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify, and it will pay out on April 2.

In addition to that special bonus for hourly associates, the company will accelerate the next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club, and supply chain associates a month early. When it pays out in late April, it will help provide more cash in hand for associates sooner. The company will pay those bonuses as if the company achieved its first quarter plan. At the regularly scheduled time for bonus payout in May, that amount may increase for associates based on performance. In no case will an eligible associate receive less than the first quarter plan bonus payment. The early payout will add up to $180 million.

Walmart also is hiring 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers. These roles will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time.

Restaraunts
Little Caesars, based in Detroit, now offers contactless options for both carry out and delivery, and is the only pizza chain where hot, fresh orders wait for customers in heated Pizza Portal compartments for self-pickup using a QR code that is sent to their smartphones. If customers select the delivery option in the Little Caesars mobile app or online, they will have a contactless experience – orders are left on a front doorstep, or wherever the customer specifies. The company says its pizzas are baked in 500-degree ovens and only handled with sanitized tools after baking. The chain also has reinforced cleanliness and sanitization procedures, increasing the frequency of cleaning frequently touched surfaces including door handles, glass, countertops, Pizza Portal surfaces, phones, and cash registers.

Chick-Fil-A’s first and only drive-thru truck is stationed outside of Macy’s at Somerset Collection in Troy, providing accessible meals from one of the Peacock Café’s most popular eateries.

Additionally, Somerset Collection is bringing The Detroit Shoppe to the community’s curbside. For a $10 donation, guests can receive a bag of Detroit snacks, including Faygo pop, Better Made chips, and Sanders candy. A portion of proceeds from Chick-Fil-A and all proceeds from The Detroit Shoppe benefit Techtown’s Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund. All doctors, nurses and medical professionals will receive a free meal from Chick-Fil-A and a free bag from The Detroit Shoppe.

Technology
Materialise, a Belgium-based 3-D printing company with North America headquarters in Plymouth Township, has designed a 3-D printed door opener that makes it possible to open and close doors with your arm, removing the need for direct contact with door handles. The company is offering the printable design for free and calling upon the global 3-D printing community to 3-D print the door opener and make it available all around the world. The hands-free door opener can be fitted to a door handle without drilling holes or replacing the existing door handle. The first model can be attached to cylindrical handles but Materialise plans to introduce additional designs using different 3-D printing technologies as needed in response to the spread of the COVID-19. People who don’t have access to a 3-D printer or a local 3-D print factory can order the door opener via the i.materialise portal. A set of two hands-free door openers, including screws, is available for about $43.

Amazon recently announced that its checkout-free technology would be made available to any retailer that wants it. Called Just Walk Out, the service tracks customers throughout a store, if they pick up an item and leave with it, they are billed. No cashiers, no interaction, just walk out. With everyday life changing thanks to COVID-19, this type of technology will see rapid deployment over the next few years. Amazon, while it has competition, stands to gain a significant share of this market. The company already has demonstrated successful use-cases for Just Walk Out; now, it just has to convince store owners to adopt.

Energy
Detroit’s DTE Energy has announced, effective immediately, it is winding down and temporarily suspending all noncritical infrastructure and maintenance work as a measure to protect the health of its employees and customers. Employees will stay home in instances other than emergency response to customers. Noncritical work includes main renewal, infrastructure construction, and home energy consultations. The company will continue to monitor the situation and adjust daily and weekly. Teams will be ready to respond to emergencies including power outages, gas leaks, and downed powerlines. Overhead line work and tree trimming also are critical, and vendors in these fields will determine how to safely remain on the job. Customer service specialists will continue to respond to customer calls from home, and the company’s 5,000 employees who have been working from home will continue to do so. The company is suspending shutoffs for customers who have not paid and are low income eligible through April 5. The grace period could be extended depending on COVID-19’s continued impact. Customers who are enrolled in the Senior Winter Protection Program have had their end dates automatically extended through May 3. Customers who are impacted by a sudden loss of income or a medical condition due to COVID-19 as well as senior citizens are encouraged to contact DTE at 1 (800) 477-4747 to determine eligibility for DTE’s payment assistance programs.

Entertainment
A new national coalition of live event and entertainment businesses, their employees, and independent contractors are requesting a federal aid package for small businesses in the event industry due to COVID-19. The group is calling on the Trump Administration and Congress to establish a special task force to rescue the industry in the face of total collapse from the spread of the virus, and asking interested people to sign a petition or provide support to a relief fund.

“The coronavirus outbreak is threatening to eliminate the livelihoods of millions of Americans and their companies, with the possibility of wiping them out for good if action is not taken right now,” said Isaac Rockwell, a spokesman for the new coalition. “The White House is holding talks with representatives from many different sectors of the economy and we are asking to be brought in to those talks right away. We represent people in every state of the Union and make a major contribution to the U.S. economy.”

According to industry research from Allied Market Research, the business of live events generates more than $1.1 trillion annually on a global scale and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.3 percent to $2.3 trillion by 2026. Direct spending on events in the United States sits at the highest share of that revenue at over 36 percent. The industry supports more than 10 million American jobs across the events business.
To access the petition, visit here.

Charitable Activities
The Consumers Energy Foundation in Jackson is supporting two statewide organizations with a $500,000 contribution to help enhance critical services for Michigan children, vulnerable seniors, and those who may need assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Association of United Ways each will receive $250,000. The Food Bank Council of Michigan will distribute its $250,000 contribution to its regional food bank network to fill gaps where schools are unable to provide food for children, vulnerable seniors, and the anticipated growing need that will surface as more people cannot work due to COVID-19 but still need food for their families. The Michigan Association of United Ways will share the funding with United Way organizations located in Consumers Energy service areas that have set up or are deploying emergency response activities in local communities. Many United Ways are partnering with community foundations and other local funding sources to address needs related to COVID-19, including support for the 2-1-1 system, ensuring the needs of vulnerable populations are met, and helping provide sustainability to nonprofits so the organizations can continue addressing basic needs.

Consumers Energy also has enhanced its Matching Gifts Program focusing on matching employee contributions to food banks/pantries, homeless shelters, community foundations, and the United Way. Through May 31, donations from CMS and Consumers Energy employees will be matched without restriction.

Earlier, Consumers Energy announced the suspension of shut-offs for non-pay for low-income and senior customers through April 5, with the possibility of adjusting that timeframe depending on the spread and severity of COVID-19. Senior citizens and qualified low-income customers already enrolled in the Winter Protection Program have extended end dates through May 3.

Junior League Designer Show House
The Junior League of Detroit today announced that the dates of its 2020 Designers’ Show House have been moved to September 19 through October 4, 2020. The tour of the Bingley Fales House in Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood had been scheduled for May 9 to June 7.

The Designer Show House Illume Preview Gala will take place on Saturday, September 19, and the house will then open to the public for 15 consecutive days including the first Sunday and two full weekends. Daily hours are yet to be determined, but they will include some evening hours. All private and special events are being rescheduled accordingly. Those who have already purchased tickets will be contacted to discuss refund or rescheduling options.

The 16,000-square-foot home is the largest residence in Indian Village and contains 10 bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and two half baths. The Georgian-style mansion is set on two acres of land that include flower gardens, hardscape pathways, a trellis covered lanai, a fountain, and a Pewabic tile-lined reflecting pool.

Funds from the house will support the league’s local philanthropic efforts including its impact initiative Project EAT, which works to create a more food secure community. Through Project EAT, the league recently launched the Empowered Pantry, which proves more than 25,000 meals annually, nutrition education, and cooking tools for employees. Future plans include the creation of additional pantries to serve food insecure families across metro Detroit.

Every other year, the league selects a local estate and finds a team of interior designers to transform the home into a Designers’ Show House. Guests have the opportunity to tour the finished space. This will be the league’s 23rd house, and the fundraiser has garnered nearly $5 million in support of local philanthropic efforts.

Design firms for the Designer Show House were selected from across the country to join honorary design chairs Jaime Drake and Caleb Anderson in reimagining 33 interior spaces of the home, located at 1771 Seminole St. This year’s design sponsors include Kohler Co., Kohler Signature Store in Birmingham, Benjamin Moore Paint, and CIOT Tile.

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