COVID-19 Update: CES to be Online Only in January, State Launches Digital Hub for Displaced Workers, 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 July 28

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.

Nation’s Biggest Electronics Trade Show to be Online in 2021
CES, the nation’s largest electronics trade show that takes place every January in Las Vegas, will be a digital experience Jan. 6-9, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more than 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation and in recent years many automotive advances have been unveiled during the show.

“An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future,” according to a press release from the Consumer Technology Association, which stages the annual event. “You’ll be able to participate in all the awe-inspiring moments of CES wherever you are in the world. We are designing a unique experience for the tech industry.”

The event still will offer keynote addresses and conferences, product showcases, meetings, and networking.

“Technology has helped us all work, learn, and connect during the coronavirus pandemic, and it has presented real solutions to help solve complex global challenges,” the press release said. “We recognize that, particularly in these uncertain times, it is the partnerships of some of the most creative minds that bring the best solutions to life.”

The CTA said it expects to return the show to Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022.

State Launches Digital Hub for Workers Displaced by COVID-19
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has launched a digital hub that connects the state’s workers displaced by COVID-19 with online learning opportunities and other training resources.

Whether one is looking to return to work, explore in-demand careers, learn new skills, or take the first step toward a degree or certificate, the hub has information to help Michigan workers expand their opportunities in an evolving economy. features a range of online learning and career exploration options – including free opportunities – for Michigan residents to consider while navigating the Covid-19 economy in the coming weeks and months, when in-person learning opportunities may be limited. It is a collaboration between LEO, the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), Michigan Works! Agencies, and others.

“With the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that we help Michiganders improve their skills, explore in-demand career opportunities and jumpstart educational opportunities,” says Jeff Donofrio, director of LEO. “These online resources continue to expand opportunities for residents to connect with and succeed in high-demand, high-wage careers of the future.”

The site provides a new Return-to-Work Playbook that assists those preparing to enter the workforce find their next job or discover another one in a national economy that has seen the highest unemployment rates in 100 years. It outlines available career and job-readiness resources, including step-by-step instructions for developing resumes, preparing for interviews, exploring new career paths, and finding free or inexpensive job training opportunities.

It also provides industry or occupation-specific resources for in-demand careers and additional resources to assist specific individuals including veterans, individuals with disabilities, migrant and seasonal farm workers, and adult learners.

Troy Education Benefits Company Adapts to Pandemic and Adds Staff
Troy-based education benefits administration company Edcor, like many others, had to make a quick pivot to remote work when the pandemic hit Michigan hard, but it not only didn’t lay off any workers, it hired several people in its response to COVID-19.

“Edcor helps employers tailor education and certification programs for their employees; but we also have a contact center that fields thousands of questions a week from employees inquiring about their employer-sponsored tuition credits and classes,” says Sara VanWagoner, vice president of corporate growth at Edcor. “It’s much easier to pivot desk jobs to remote work than contact center jobs, but we did it with almost no interruption of service to our clients.”

The company hired five key management and higher-level salaried individuals as well as four customer service agents. While some hires were replacements, others were new. The company has seen some decline in business due to the fears of the long-term impact of COVID-19 on employers and their benefits programs, but Van Wagoner sees signs for optimism, too.

“Only one client has stopped their program all together, and there has definitely been a drop in utilization, but we fully expect that to pick back up and are starting to see some evidence of it already,” VanWagoner says.

VanWagoner points to the addition of a Michigan-based, multi-state health system, which hired Edcor not only to administer its tuition assistance program, but to bring multiple programs across the U.S. into one program for the entire organization. Another new client is Ohio-based Kettering Health Network, which brought Edcor on board for tuition assistance services and Edcor’s newer Freedom student loan repayment program.

Survey: 37% of Hotels Have Brought Back Half of Their Employees
Nearly nine in 10 hotels have been forced to lay off or furlough employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting drop in travel, according to the results of a survey of American Hotel and Lodging Association members.

Further, four months into the crisis, 37 percent of survey respondents report that they have been able to bring back at least half their full-time employees.

AHLA conducted the survey of 1,200 hotel industry owners, operators, and employees from July 23-27. Key findings include:

  • 87 percent of hotels report laying off or furloughing staff because of COVID-19.
  • 36 percent have been unable to bring any of their furloughed or laid off workers back to full-time employment.
  • 37 percent of hotels have been able to bring back at least half their full-time employees.
  • 24 percent of hotels are back to a minimum of 60 percent of their pre-COVID staffing levels.
  • 29 percent of hotels are still at or below 20 percent staffing.

Of the more than 600 hotel owner respondents, more than half stated they are in danger of losing their property to foreclosure by commercial real estate lenders due to COVID-19.

“It’s hard to overstate just how devastating the pandemic has been for the hotel industry,” says Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the AHLA. “We have never seen a crisis of this magnitude.”

To raise awareness for hotel industry priorities, AHLA is declaring today a National Day of Action for hoteliers across the country to urge lawmakers to swiftly pass additional stimulus relief.

Shiga, Japan Donates 10,000 Masks to Sister State Michigan
Michigan received a donation of 10,000 masks this week made in and sent by its sister-state of Shiga Prefecture in Japan.

Michigan and Shiga Prefecture have been sister-states for more than 50 years. Michigan also has 14 sister-city relationships with cities located in Shiga Prefecture. The donated masks were manufactured by Proctor & Gamble in the Shiga city of Yasu, which is a sister-city of Clinton Township.

“Today, I’m sending you 10,000 masks with the hope that they will help your fight against the pandemic,” says Mikazuki Taizō, governor of Shiga Prefecture. “This gift was made possible by Proctor & Gamble’s understanding of how strong our bond is, and I’m proud to be able to send something made in Shiga to an irreplaceable friend such as you. As citizens, as governments, and as partners, together, we will move forward.”

EMU, WSU Researchers to Host Post-COVID Health Care Webinar
Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and Wayne State University in Detroit are hosting a webinar titled “Health Care in the Aftermath of COVID-19” on Thursday, July 30, from 7-8 p.m. via Zoom.

The webinar will feature the husband and wife team of Renuka ‘Ray’ Roche (and EMU assistant professor of occupational therapy) and Joseph A. Roche, (a WSU assistant professor of physical therapy).

To register, visit here. For more information, please contact Jacqueline Martin at 313-993-6624 or

Organizations Partner to Enhance Coding Bootcamps with Real-time Environmental Data
Detroit computer training school Grand Circus and the nonprofit Great Lakes Observing System in Ann Arbor are partnering to incorporate live environmental data into the coding academy’s training programs.

Grand Circus students now will have access to many types of data managed by GLOS, which collects, manages, and shares key data sets that support science, policy, management, and industry in the Great Lakes.

“One of our main goals is to get critical, real-time information into as many hands as possible so people can understand the water and make better decisions,” says Kelli Paige, CEO of GLOS, “and we are excited to see what the innovative students at Grand Circus will create.”

Grand Circus bootcamp students will use data managed by GLOS for their final projects, and will be encouraged to build dashboards, mobile and web applications with these real-time datasets. Students also will meet with the GLOS team to better understand the organization’s mission and data. The first Grand Circus students to interact with GLOS data will begin their bootcamp this month.

“When students have the opportunity to work with actual data to meet a real-world need, they deepen their bootcamp experience,” says Peter Guenther, director of learning at Grand Circus.

For more information about Grand Circus, visit here. For more information on GLOS, visit here.

Higher Education
Cleary University, with a main campus in Howell and an education center in Detroit is offering a 50 percent tuition discount for independent workers, thanks to a new partnership with the Association of Independent Workers (iPSE).

The scholarship is available to anyone who owns a business or is a subcontractor or freelancer.

For more information, visit here.

Little Caesars Named Official Pizza Delivery of the NHL
Little Caesars and the National Hockey League today announced that the Detroit-based pizza company has been named the Official Pizza Delivery of the league.

The multiyear agreement offers Little Caesars an array of exclusive marketing rights and designations that will connect the brand with the NHL and its events. Fans will see the Little Caesars brand displayed in a corner in-ice ad position during every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying games, the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as all exhibition games. The partnership begins immediately and runs through the 2020-2021 season.

“As we continue to add stores and customers across the globe, our partnership with the NHL will connect us with millions of consumers around the world in a new way,” says Dave Scrivano, president and CEO of Little Caesars. “The Little Caesars brand has had a deep relationship with the incredible sport of hockey for a long time, and we’re thrilled to take our love of the game to the next level.”

Little Caesars is part of the Ilitch companies, which also owns the NHL Detroit Red Wings.

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