COVID-19 Update: CEOs Offer ‘A Better Strategy for Reopening,’ $14M in Federal Apprenticeship Grants Available, Medicare Providers Can Access CARES Act Funds, 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.
graph of Michigan 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.

CEOs Offer ‘A Better Strategy for Reopening Communities, Schools, and Economy’
The CEOs of Ford Motor Co., Boston Consulting Group, and CVS Health have offered five ways to safeguard the public as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Jim Hackett of Ford, Rich Lesser of Boston Consulting Group, and Larry Merlo of CVS Health are co-chairs of the Business Roundtable’s Safe Recovery Initiative and have proposed actions every level of government should take to stem the viruses’ tide.

“Health officials and numerous projections have warned that if we don’t get this under control, the virus could spread like wildfire — with the most vulnerable among us as its likeliest victims,” the CEOs wrote in the joint proposal. “How do we safeguard our loved ones and fellow citizens while maintaining strong communities until we have a vaccine? We protect ourselves and, critically, we protect each other.”

They call on Congress, federal, state, and local policy makers to “urgently” take these actions:

Supply masks. Provide funding to distribute high-quality masks to at-risk individuals who cannot afford them and ensure a sufficient and sustained national supply.

Ramp up testing. Increase funding to state and local public health agencies for additional testing capacity, regular testing of asymptomatic individuals, and contact tracing focused particularly on the health-vulnerable, their contacts, and communities of color.

Support shelter-in-place. Enable health-vulnerable populations who are either not working or working from home to isolate and stay safe by funding mental health and counseling services as well as food security assistance.

Incentivize enhanced workforce safety measures. Provide funding or tax incentives to organizations, including small and medium-sized businesses, for investments in additional safety measures to protect vulnerable employees such as high-quality masks, safe transportation options, and voluntary redeployment opportunities. Additionally, support efforts to enable the two percent of workforce that is highest risk (over 65 with underlying conditions) to work from home or shelter in place.

Protect congregate living facilities. Provide funding to implement health and safety measures in congregate living facilities, such as by creating spaces to quarantine infected residents, adding protections to rigorously limit visitors, and testing residents and workers at least weekly.

Our analysis suggests, these five policies could reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations by more than 50 percent relative to our current trajectory. What’s more, doing so would cost the federal government less than 10 percent of the monthly cost it incurred during the first three months of the pandemic.

To read the full proposal, visit here.

$14M in Federal Apprenticeship Grants Available to Michigan Employers
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has been awarded more than $14.3 million in U.S. Department of Labor grants to support registered apprenticeship programs throughout the state.

The federal funds will help Michigan employers fill thousands of projected openings in high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, construction, energy, health care, information technology, and mobility.

“These programs are vital to Michigan’s economic success,” says Jeff Donofrio, director of LEO. “This funding not only ensures vital programs are available for students and job-seekers to prepare for in-demand career options, it also helps businesses grow and thrive in Michigan when they have a highly-skilled talent pool to select from.”

LEO was awarded nearly $9.5 million through the USDOL’s “Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation” grant program to strategically scale the use of the national Registered Apprenticeship Program model in the state. The new Michigan Registered Apprenticeship Innovation Network program will accelerate the addition of more than 5,230 workers to fill some of the 547,120 job openings projected by employers.

LEO also was one of just 14 recipients of the USDOL’s Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants. The $4,881,369 in grant funding will support the Michigan Youth Apprenticeship Readiness Network program. It will develop 1,024 youth registered apprentices and, through the engagement of LEO’s Michigan Rehabilitation Services, will ensure at least 124 of those apprentices are youth with disabilities.

For more information, visit here.

CARES Act Funds Available to State Medicare Providers
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging Medicaid providers that are struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for federal funds intended to assist them.

The deadline to apply for Provider Relief Fund dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration is Aug. 3.

“Our Medicaid partners provide critical health care coverage to Michiganders and have continued to do so during the pandemic,” says Kate Massey, director of MDHHS’s Medical Services Administration. “They took a financial hit when many medical appointments were cancelled as a result of COVID-19. These federal dollars are available to help providers so that they can continue to assist Medicaid beneficiaries.”

Medicaid providers can find more information about eligibility and apply here.

Pandemic Continues to Affect Beaumont Health’s Financials
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to put a strain on Beaumont Health’s patient volumes, operating income, and non-operating income throughout the second quarter of 2020, losing $146.7 million, a decrease of $355.6 million compared to the same period last year.

The effects of the pandemic are expected to continue to be felt throughout the remainder of the year as Beaumont, the state’s largest hospital system, has cared for more COVID-19 patients than any other health care operation in Michigan.

Operating revenues fell to $2.10 billion, a $220.4 million decrease over the $2.32 billion reported at the end of the second quarter of 2019.

Net operating losses for the first six months of 2020 were $48.4 million (-2.3 percent operating margin), a $124.6 million decrease from 2019’s net operating income of $76.2 million (3.3 percent operating margin). Non-operating losses through the second quarter were $79.8 million, compared to a non-operating gain of $142.7 million in the same period last year.

“The Beaumont team remains focused on providing high-quality care,” says John Kerndl, CFO of Beaumont. “Surgeries, ER visits, and diagnostic services have begun to recover, but not back to pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Consumers Energy Announces Locations for EV Fast Charging Stations
Consumers Energy in Jackson announced today that the first PowerMIDrive fast charging stations for electric vehicles now are operating in four Michigan communities.

The new charging stations are located at the following locations:

  • Big Rapids – Johnny’s Markets, 21445 Perry Ave.
  • Cadillac – J&H Family Stores, 2560 E. Division St.
  • Gaylord – City of Gaylord, 201 S. Court
  • Marshall – Johnny’s Markets, 15423 N. Old US 127

“We are serving the public’s interest in electric vehicles, not just with these fast charging stations, but with over 400 rebates that our PowerMIDrive program has approved for homes and public locations across Michigan,” says Brian Rich, senior vice president for customer experience at Consumers Energy.

The utility says it expects as many as 30 more fast charging stations to be operating by early next year across the Lower Peninsula.

In Related News: CMS Energy has purchased a majority stake in Aviator Wind, a 525-megawatt wind energy project in Texas that will support efforts by Facebook and McDonald’s to achieve their clean energy goals. The project will start operations by fall 2020 in Coke County, about 250 miles southwest of Dallas.

Aviator Wind will be operated by CMS Enterprises, a subsidiary of CMS Energy that develops, owns, and operates utility-scale renewable energy facilities, including wind and solar.

“Through Aviator Wind, we’re proud to continue the drive toward sustainable energy and help two of the nation’s largest organizations meet their aggressive renewables goals,” says Richard Mukhtar, president of CMS Enterprises.

Facebook’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent and support 100 percent of its operations with renewable energy this year.

McDonald’s is the world’s first restaurant company to set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. It’s target is to reduce emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36 percent by 2030.

Livonia’s Alta Equipment Group to Acquire Martin Implement Sales of Illinois
Alta Equipment Group Inc. in Livonia today announced that it has agreed to acquire Illinois-based Martin Implement Sales Inc., a privately held premium equipment distributor with three branches in the Chicago metro area for an undisclosed amount.

Martin sells primarily construction and agricultural equipment in partnership with industry leading manufacturers, and offers comprehensive services, including equipment financing, replacement parts, and factory-authorized service.

“Adding this exceptional equipment distributor accelerates our growth in the Illinois construction market and broadens our best-in-class product portfolio and service capabilities,” says Ryan Greenawalt, CEO of Alta.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, subject to the customary conditions.

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