COVID-19 Update: Casinos Get Reopening Rules But no Start Date, Hospitality Group Publishes Guidelines, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of June 8

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.

State Government – Casinos Get Reopening Guidelines
The Michigan Gaming Control Board Monday approved minimum reopening guidelines for the Detroit casinos to protect public health and safety but has yet to set a date for actual reopening. The casinos will remain closed until reopening can be permitted under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Safe Start Plan.

“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered CDC recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines. and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” says Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the MGCB. “We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines. We believe the guidelines will protect the public when it is safe to reopen the casinos.”

The minimum guidelines for initial opening include:

  • Limit of 15 percent the legal capacity at each casino.
  • Limited entrance points with temperature checks.
  • A ban on smoking on the casino floors.
  • No poker rooms.
  • Heightened cleaning protocols.
  • Social distancing.

To view the guidelines, visit here.

State Hospitality Association Publishes Reopening Guide
The Lansing-based Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association has released “A Safe Welcome Back,” a step-by-step guide to navigating lodging reintegration. It features comprehensive guidelines and checklists to put hoteliers in a position to safely operate and rebuild business quickly while fostering consumer confidence.

“As we head into a Pure Michigan summer, our hotels, resorts, and convention centers find themselves in the precarious position of potentially sacrificing billions of dollars of previously booked weddings, parties, and conventions as a direct result of existing orders limiting gatherings to 10 people in most of the state,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA. “Through our ‘A Safe Welcome Back’ guidance, we believe these struggling businesses have the guidance they need to operate their facilities safely and should be immediately afforded the same opportunity as restaurants to provide socially distanced foodservice and safe gatherings at increased and realistic capacities.”

Included in “A Safe Welcome Back” for Michigan hoteliers, which can be viewed here, are health and safety guidelines, recommended operational and safety protocols for guests and employees, and tips for building consumer confidence.

The publication addresses all aspects of back- and front-of-the house lodging operations:

  • Develop a COVID-19 response team
  • Employee health
  • Personal protection equipment
  • Guest health
  • Housekeeping
  • Attention to the guest
  • Meetings and events
  • Amenities
  • Verifying third parties

The 22-page booklet incorporates guidelines and resources from the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, OSHA, National Restaurant Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association as well as insight from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders and the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.

A Safe Welcome Back includes suggestions for communicating safety measures to guests, including welcome signs encouraging stays by healthy visitors only and placing a “clean for you” sticker sealing guest room doors for incoming reservations. The booklet also details recommended procedures such as touchless payment, contactless room drop of linens, and placing touchless hand sanitizers at check-in and elevators.

“A Safe Welcome Back combines guidance for hoteliers with new state and federal regulations as well as recommendations for ensuring guest and employee safety,” says Winslow. “We are here to deliver the best resources to the lodging industry and are eager for hotels to return as a home-away-from-home for vacation and business travel.”

The tourism industry is among the hardest hit by COVID-19. According to data in late March from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 37,948 direct hotel-related jobs were lost due to the pandemic. In that same timeframe, 45 percent of the 193,432 hotel industry employees in Michigan already were furloughed or projected to lose their jobs. As of June 3, nearly six out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the country.

Wayne County Community College District and CVS Health have launched rapid COVID-19 testing at the college’s downtown campus site. Licensed health care providers from MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, and CVS Pharmacy colleagues will staff the testing operation.

Testing at the WCCCD Curtis L. Ivery Downtown Campus, located at 1001 W. Fort St. in Detroit, will be open to the public by appointment at no cost. Testing will take place in rooms 123-125 of the lower level of the campus. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Patients will need to pre-register in advance by calling 313-412-2160 to make an appointment.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel has announced updates to scheduled overnight closures this week as part of its ongoing $22 million renovation project. The last scheduled closure for the ceiling replacement at the tunnel will be between the hours of 9 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday. The tunnel will remain open the remainder of the week.

Impact100 Awards $100,000 to Two Local Organizations
Impact100 Metro Detroit, a women’s philanthropy group based in Birmingham, has awarded $100,000 grants to The Lawn Academy and the Micha 6 Community.

The Lawn Academy will use the grant to expand its proram through a new East Detroit Learning and Development Hub offering homework assistance, financial literacy, principles of entrepreneurship, and a learning lab to local children.

The Micha 6 Community is planning to use its grant in their food-desert Pontiac neighborhood to expand their community garden and go from growing 10,000 lbs. of food per year to 50,000 lbs.

“The women of Impact100 Metro Detroit are harnessing the power of collective giving with these grants to contribute to the good The Lawn Academy and Micha 6 do in our community,” says Amy Bouque, president of Impact100 Metro Detroit. “Coming together to make a sustainable impact is more important than ever, especially at a time when many nonprofits are struggling.”

The women of Impact100 Metro Detroit award at least one high-impact grant each year to a local charity that is headquartered in and serves Wayne, Oakland, and/or Macomb County. Each member donates $1,000 toward a collective grant of at least $100,000, which is awarded to the nonprofit finalists who receive the most member votes. This year the organization, with 200 members, awarded two $100,000 grants for the first time.

Women who want to be a part of the excitement can visit here.

Mahindra Donates $75,000 to 11 Urban Farming Groups
Eleven southeast Michigan urban farming groups received $75,000 in funding from the Auburn Hills-based Mahindra Automotive North America Urban Agriculture Grant Program this week. The grants address COVID-19’s impact on locally available food supplies in inner-city areas in Detroit, Flint, and Pontiac, especially for households facing the dual challenge of keeping family members healthy and putting wholesome food on their tables.

“We felt that concentrating our 2020 grant funds on strengthening the urban agriculture community’s ability to grow and distribute food to people in need was one of the ways we could be of the most help during the pandemic,” says Rick Haas, president and CEO of Mahindra Automotive North America.

Since the program’s inception in 2015, Mahindra Automotive North America has donated more than $625,000 in cash and farm equipment to 20 unique community-based organizations in southeast Michigan. Those grant funds have been used to train and equip thousands of home gardeners who grow food for their families, friends, and neighbors.

“Now more than ever, we need to support Michigan’s urban farmers who are growing healthy food for their communities,” said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “I applaud the commitment of Mahindra Automotive North America and all businesses and organizations who are strengthening urban farms in our state.”

The organizations receiving 2020 Mahindra Urban Agriculture Grants are:

  • Asbury Community Development Corporation (Flint) – $10,000
  • Burnside Farm (Detroit) – $2,000
  • Charles Drew Transition Center Horticultural Program (Detroit) – $10,000
  • Detroit Black Community Food Security Network-D-Town Farm (Detroit) – $15,000
  • Edible Flint (Flint) – $5,000
  • Greening of Detroit (Detroit) – $5,000
  • Keep Growing Detroit (Detroit) – $15,000
  • Micah 6 (Pontiac) – $5,000
  • Olivet Neighborhood Watch (Detroit) – $2,000
  • Northend Christian CDC (Detroit) – $5,000
  • Yorkshire Woods Community Association (Detroit) – $1,000

Forgotten Harvest in Need of Volunteers for Summer 2020
Oak Park-based Forgotten Harvest is in need of volunteers to help support feeding those in need in metro Detroit this summer.

Forgotten Harvest’s on-the-go pop-up pantries and the new Royal Oak warehouse and repacking site now have additional opportunities to volunteer. The organization says it needs help and support so that communities across metro Detroit do not go hungry. The areas and sites that need volunteers urgently include Royal Oak and various outside super sites.

Those interested in volunteering should visit here.

Cure Multiple Myeloma Corp. is hosting free “Ask the Doctor” virtual discussions on Thursday, June 25 at 8 a.m. and on Tuesday, July 14 at 9 a.m.

The June 25 session features Dr. Matthew Pianko, a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine for the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Rogel Cancer Center at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

The July 14 session features Dr. Joseph P. Uberti, professor of medicine and oncology director of the Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplant Program and the Lambert Webber Endowed Chair of Stem Cell Research at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University in Detroit.

To register for either or both of these discussions, please contact Michele MacWilliams via email or at 248-625-0070 and leave a message.

Rose Hill Center, a Holly-based residential mental health treatment facility for adults with serious mental illness, has announced it has reopened new patient admissions after several weeks of pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit organization was fortunate to not have experienced a single confirmed case of coronavirus, following the policies and procedures put in place to help keep residents and staff safe during these unprecedented times.

“All staff and essential visitors will continue to be screened prior to entering the campus, and residents will be monitored for symptoms using guidelines provided by the CDC,” says Rochelle Rothwell, president and CEO of Rose Hill Center. “We continue to maintain one unoccupied house on campus in the event we should be required to quarantine a resident with mild symptoms. We also are building our supply of PPE so we can keep both residents and staff safe while caring for someone in the event of a confirmed case.”

Rose Hill Center will use a process that requires quarantine and testing for active COVID-19 infection prior to admission. Those test results typically take 24-48 hours to be returned, so it has created an option for quarantine in a private room on campus – separate of the homes available to residents – for the time between test administration and return of results.

For more information, call 586-242-9425.

Kings Island and Cedar Point, amusement parks in Ohio, are slated to open with limited capacity for season pass holders only on July 2 and July 9, respectively. Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers and Lighthouse Point RV sites will open June 12. Opening dates for Cedar Point’s waterparks have yet to be determined. Guests must register online in advance of their visit and wear masks. 

Commerce Department Announces Pilot Program to Fight Illegal Online Opioid Sales
The Department of Commerce and the Department of Health and Human Services is initiating a 120-day pilot program to curb illegal online sales of unapproved opioids. Under the program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will work with three domain name registries, Neustar (.us), Verisign (.com, .net) and Public Interest Registry (.org), to suspend the domain names of websites found to be illegally selling unapproved opioids.

For the duration of the pilot, FDA will serve as a “trusted notifier” to alert the registries about websites that are illegally selling unapproved opioids. Upon receiving notice from the FDA, a registry may then voluntarily lock the domain, delete the domain, or place the domain on hold, as appropriate. The “trusted notifier” designation expedites the process for suspending domain name registrations.

At the end of the pilot program, NTIA, FDA, and the domain name registries will analyze the program’s effectiveness and its potential as a long-term solution to combatting the illegal sale of unapproved opioids online.

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