COVID-19 Update: Detroit Announces Extension of Outdoor Dining Program, City Casinos Projected to Lose $67M During Shutdown, 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.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Nov. 21

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.

Detroit Announces Extension of Outdoor Dining Program
The city of Detroit has extended its outdoor dining program, Open Detroit, to support the city’s restaurants during the state’s three-week shutdown.

Since response to the program, which started in June, has been favorable among restaurant owners and patrons, coupled with the new restrictions on indoor dining, the city decided to extend the program through the winter, to provide safe dining options amid the latest COVID-19 restrictions. The winter edition of Open Detroit will kick off Dec. 1 and go through April 1, 2021.

“Our local restaurants continue to face challenges as a result of COVID-19 related restrictions on sit-down dining capacity,” says Ron Brundidge, director of DPW. “With these restrictions continuing into the cold weather months, the extension of the Open Detroit program will give businesses an opportunity to service patrons in a safe manner. Our hope is that restaurants take advantage of this opportunity, and most importantly that residents safely support these businesses.”

The program allows for sidewalks, parklets (on-streets parking spaces), and private parking lots to be temporarily converted for uses such as seating, expanded outdoor dining areas, and retail space. The city also has designated a select number of Café and Retail Zones where the city will close selected portions of an entire street. These zones provide the maximum space to serve businesses in a concentrated area and will be installed 24 hours per day/seven days per week, for the duration of the program. Social distancing requirements as well as ADA clearances must be followed. Enclosed outdoor seating is permissible under the following guidelines:

  • Tents can only have one single side of the tent down. Tents with more than one side down are not allowed.
  • “Igloo” style seating is allowed but must only sit one household at a time. A household is defined as a group of persons living together in a shared dwelling with common kitchen or bathroom facilities.

Permits for the summer outdoor dining program are set to expire on Nov. 30. All restaurants looking to apply for the winter program must apply online, including current summer permit holders. Due to the circumstances winter weather brings, there will be additional precautions and planning that must occur before the winter operations can be launched. Those business looking to participate in the winter program will need to have the following ready when applying:

  • If a heating apparatus is going to be used, the specifications of that apparatus must be submitted at time of application.
  • This submittal shall also include the number of units and location of units.
  • If a tent is proposed to be used, the manufacturer specifications, sizing, and weighting must be supplied at time of applications.
  • A floor plan for seating must be provided at time of application for any partially or fully enclosed seating areas outside of the building.
  • The review period for winter applications is up to eight days for approvals.
  • Once applicant has received official approval in the form of an Open Detroit- Winter Edition permit, applicant can then begin to assemble space.

Applications for the winter program are now open and can be submitted here.

Detroit Casinos Projected to Lose $67M During Three-week Shutdown
Detroit’s three commercial casinos stand to lose $67 million in revenue during the three-week shutdown ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Nov. 15, based on projections from MichiganSharp.com.

Despite a 15 percent capacity limitation, Detroit casinos earned $101.4 million in revenue in October. Based on that figure, the three-week shutdown projects to $67 million in lost revenue for the casinos.

That projection includes $5 million in lost sports betting revenue, based on $7.6 million in October earnings from sportsbooks at the three Detroit casinos.

Michigan regulators said they were hopeful for a November launch of statewide online sports betting, but recent snags in the regulation process could push the launch back to December, or even early 2021.

Online sports betting and casinos continue to boom in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Both states realized record revenue figures for both mobile sports betting and casinos this summer. Mobile wagering accounts for more than 80 percent of overall sports betting revenue in both states.

If that 80 percent metric is applied to the three Detroit casinos, Michigan’s commercial retail sportsbooks project to miss out on $30 million in monthly revenue during the fall sports season, including $2.5 million in lost tax revenue for Michigan.

“The sports betting boom across the U.S. comes from the popularity of mobile wagering,” said Geoff Fisk, an analyst for MichiganSharp. “We likely won’t see any states where retail sportsbook revenue comes anywhere close to what mobile wagering can produce.”

New Jersey went over $200 million in 2020 mobile sports betting revenue in September, while Pennsylvania topped $87 million.

MichiganSharp.com projects that online casinos and sports betting could bring in $650 million in annual revenue for Michigan’s commercial and tribal casinos. That projection includes $250 million from online casinos, producing an additional $5 million in monthly tax revenue.

“The pandemic can’t shut down online gaming platforms,” Fisk says. “Mobile gaming is vital to the survival of the retail casino industry.”

For more information, visit here.

UHY and Signature Associates Relocate
UHY and Signature Associates announced they will move to a new downtown Detroit location (230 E. Grand River Ave.) in early 2021.

Signature Associates is the largest-volume full-service commercial real estate firm in the region and UHY certified public accountants is the fifth largest CPA firm in southeast Michigan. Each firm will be relocating their Detroit offices into the historic, class A high-rise in the storied Paradise Valley neighborhood that continues to grow.

The landmark building, owned by FIRM Real Estate, will include rooftop access and covered, secure parking for employees.

“We welcome UHY to the Paradise Valley neighborhood and look forward to working with them to expand their business opportunities and commitment to diversity,” says Marvin Beatty, board member of Paradise Valley Conservancy and partner at FIRM Real Estate. “UHY recognizes this is a very special area of the city and taking part in celebrating it and helping restore its glory.”

Oakland University Teams with Aquasight to Pilot Sewage Surveillance Program
Oakland University in Rochester Hills has partnered with Troy-based firm Aquasight to conduct a sewage surveillance program that can track the presence of infectious diseases like COVID-19 in wastewater.

“As we see another wave of the virus sweeping through our state, sewage testing may prove to be an essential tool in providing hospitals the necessary lead time to prepare adequate staffing and resources to address community-level surges,” says David Stone, professor of Health Sciences and chief research officer at OU.

Aquasight and the university have set up dedicated laboratory facilities on campus that will carry out the sewage testing, which can detect COVID-19 genetic fragments in campus residential wastewater. Sampling locations on the OU campus include: Hillcrest Hall, Hamlin Hall, Oakview Hall, and Vandenberg Hall, as well as the Ann V. Nicholson and George T. Matthews student apartments.

“Part of our mission is to be good community partners and better the world through knowledge,” says Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, president of OU. “This partnership, calling on the expertise of our Oakland University faculty lab researchers, will benefit the health of everyone in our local communities and beyond.

“As a physician-scientist, I also understand that if we can monitor infectious diseases through this process, it will give government officials and health care providers a big advantage in controlling the spread of disease,” Pescovitz adds.

The test works for both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals; an important distinction because it has been shown that individuals with COVID-19 may not show symptoms at all or it may be take two weeks to show symptoms. This advance notice will provide vital information for healthcare and government officials to both predict potential outbreaks and to monitor if the infectious diseases are lessening in a community.

“Aquasight’s turnkey solutions provide important insights on the spread of infectious diseases at the neighborhood and even building level and are applicable to communities, college campuses, correctional facilities and nursing homes,” says Mahesh Lunani founder and CEO of Aquasight. “We are able to quickly deploy our system that provides a 48-hour testing turnaround and are excited to partner with Oakland University to assist in their quest to keep students and staff safe.”

Aquasight also is surveying wastewater at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan State University in East Lansing and in Macomb County.

The Michigan Moonshot Partners with Toyota and Cisco to Expand Wi-Fi Access
Residents of Detroit, Inkster, Flint, and Washtenaw County soon will benefit from expanded free Wi-Fi access at more than 50 community locations across southeast Michigan.

The effort, part of Merit Network’s Michigan Moonshot initiative, was supported by contributions from the Toyota USA Foundation and Cisco. Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Merit Network provided in-kind contributions for the project.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit Public Schools has the highest number of households in the state without internet access at 82,894. The Flint School District has the second highest number with 14,221 households without internet access. In addition, 57 percent of K-12 students in Washtenaw County do not have high speed Wi-Fi access at home.

“For thousands of students across the state of Michigan, the pandemic has introduced new challenges or highlighted existing ones. We expect this to help both rural and urban communities access the internet for basic informational needs tied to living, learning and working,” says Charlotte Bewersdorff, Merit Network’s vice president for Community Engagement.

The grants address the digital divide by providing community organizations with the technological ability to extend their existing internet connectivity through Wi-Fi networks which are accessible outside the buildings. Detroit Public Library will extend its Wi-Fi network beyond the walls of nine select sites, during normal business hours. Washtenaw Intermediate School District is coordinating 30 different access points at area schools and community partners across the county.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our nation, Toyota is proud to partner with Michigan Moonshot and Cisco to expand free Wi-Fi to Southeast Michigan area schools, libraries and community gathering locations to provide an immediate solution to this urgent issue of access,” says Chris Reynolds, chief administrative officer at Toyota Motor North America.

Internet access at community sites is powered and secured by Cisco’s next-generation Wi-Fi and cloud security technology. The overall effort is supported through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program, which has more than 900 active or completed mass-scale digitization projects in 37 countries around the world.

“It is our responsibility as business leaders to step up and mobilize the tools and innovations at our disposal to help curtail the growing disparities in our communities caused by the digital divide,” says Nick Michaelides, senior vice president for the U.S. Public Sector at Cisco. “We are proud to launch this initiative alongside Merit and Toyota to help ensure equity of access, and to power an inclusive future for all Michiganders.”

To view an interactive map of all locations and hours of operation, visit here.

Music Producer Unveils Streetwear Shop in Northwest Detroit
The Electrifyin’ Filthy Rockwell, a Grammy-nominated music producer and entrepreneur born and raised in Detroit, has opened a streetwear, skate, and record shop, Filthy Americans Arts & Cultural Preservation Center at 1312 Holden in northwest Detroit.

Located on the site of the former home of a Lincoln Motor Co. assembly plant and in the heart of the Holden block redevelopment, Filthy Americans Arts & Cultural Preservation Center will serve as a retail brick-and-mortar storefront showcasing Rockwell’s clothing line, Filthy Americans.

“Filthy Americans apparel was inspired by America’s rich history and culture. Our brand is for the people who work hard and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in order to get the job done–the creatives and the builders,” said Rockwell.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says, “The Motor City Match program is creating another opportunity for a Detroiter to open a uniquely Detroit business to serve an economic need and a cultural need for the community. As more entrepreneurs like the Electrifiyin’ Filthy Rockwell turn talent and passion into a business and establish that business right here in Detroit, more Detroiters will see that it can be possible for them as well.”

Designs for lifestyle apparel available at the shop pay homage to influencers of Detroit’s history and culture, including the late Mayor Coleman A. Young. The welcoming Detroit greeting and phrase trademarked as his signature brand by Rockwell, Whatupdoe, makes its appearance on shirts and skate boards alike.

The shop also leans on skate culture, selling wheels, custom designed boards and more, as well as new and used vinyl records and features a community record bin. A community turntable allows visitors to bring in and experience vinyl albums that they have at home but may not have the equipment to play.

“This shop is going to be us telling a story and showing people the history and relationship between hip hop and techno,” Rockwell says. “We are the preservers of the culture.”

Comerica Bank Donates $100K to Capuchin Soup Kitchen
Comerica Bank has donated $100,000 to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that has served Detroit for more than 90 years with a mission to support and feed those most in need within the Detroit community.

Comerica will support Capuchin Soup Kitchen and its programs for 2020/2021 in the following areas:

  • 2020 Holiday Food Drives on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23-24) and Christmas (Dec. 16-17), providing food for approximately 1,300 households.
  • Operational expenses.
  • 2021 Support Our Capuchin Kitchen (SOCK) Fundraiser.
  • Financial education initiatives.

“We are proud to continue investing in Capuchin Soup Kitchen and its mission to serve individuals and families by meeting food security needs as well through social and emergency assistance,” says Mike Ritchie, Michigan market president for Comerica Bank. “The inspirational efforts of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen during the pandemic exemplify its selfless commitment to others, and we look forward to assisting them in their mission.”

In September, Capuchin Soup Kitchen served as the first community partner for Comerica’s Detroit Lions 2020 First Down Program, which awarded the organization $2,500.

“The Capuchin Soup Kitchen is grateful for this partnership with Comerica Bank,” says Br. Jerry Johnson, executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. “The support Comerica has given us over many years has helped alleviate suffering in our community, and it speaks to how partnering and teamwork can help make a positive difference in the lives of those who struggle with poverty, homelessness, addiction and other challenges. With these funds, we’ll be able to provide 30-pound pantry food boxes to approximately 1,300 households on Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as provide other operational support to continue our programs and services.”

Detroit Pistons to Donate Thanksgiving Dinner to 800 Local Families
The Detroit Pistons will host a Thanksgiving drive-through experience outside the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center on Nov. 24 from 5-9 p.m. for 800 pre-selected local families.

The organization will pass out turkeys donated by free agent and former Pistons players Langston Galloway and his wife, Sabrina, and Tony Snell and his wife, Ashley. Additional non-perishable food, toiletries, and miscellaneous goods will be sourced from Feed the Children.

The pre-packaged Thanksgiving boxes also will include toothbrushes from Delta Dental, hand sanitizer from Blue Cross Blue Shield, haircut vouchers from Supercuts, milk from United Dairy, and Basketball for All basketballs. The drive-through event will take place in front of the Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center, where families will have the meals loaded into their vehicles to avoid contact and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Zoup! will provide food to volunteers.

The recipients, pre-selected through non-profit partner organizations, will receive vouchers prior to the event. Organizations receiving vouchers for families include High Scope Educational Research Foundation, Detroit PAL, Starfish Family Services, City Housing Department, Detroit Housing Commission, Detroit City Councilmember Mary Sheffield, Alternative for Girls, Wish Upon a Teen, McKinney Foundation, and Mariners Inn.

TCF Bank to Match Donations to Salvation Army Dec. 1
Detroit-based TCF Bank says it will double donations to the Salvation Army (up to $25,000) on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The TCF Bank donation covers amounts donated at physical or virtual Red Kettles, as well as text-to-give, phone and online donations, will be fully matched, dollar for dollar.

Due to the economic hardships brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army’s ability to raise vital funds to serve those in need is at risk this year. Salvation Army supporters can safely donate to the nonprofit in a number of ways, including:

  • Texting GIFT to 24365.
  • Using contactless Kettle Pay at physical red kettles via Apple Pay or Google Pay.
  • Donating money via an online or physical red kettle.
  • Visiting org.
  • Calling 877-SAL-MICH.

“At TCF Bank, we stand behind our motto ‘What’s in it for We’ because we are committed to building stronger communities,” said David T. Provost, CEO of TCF Financial Corp. “What’s in it for one of us, is the same for all of us and that’s why we support The Salvation Army. The organization is the epitome of a strong community and is always ready to help anyone in need. We are honored to answer The Salvation Army’s call to Rescue Christmas.”

All donations made on Giving Tuesday will go toward The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit’s $8 million fundraising goal to Rescue Christmas for metro Detroiters in need. Funds raised will directly benefit communities throughout Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties – and contributions benefit and remain in the community from where the donation is received.

Kroger Health Launches COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Testing at Pharmacy Locations
Kroger Health, the health care division of The Kroger Co. has launched rapid antibody testing across its pharmacies, expanding the company’s existing portfolio of in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests, to help inform patients if they have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The FDA-authorized rapid antibody tests — conducted using a finger-prick blood sample — now are available at Kroger pharmacies in Michigan and California, and will be available at all Kroger pharmacies and clinics by the end of November.

The tests, which are supplied by Whitmire Medical, are available to Kroger customers for $25 and typically provide results within 15 minutes. Individuals who believe they may have previously been infected with COVID-19 and are not currently experiencing symptoms are eligible for the test.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kroger Heath has remained committed to helping people live healthier lives by offering in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 testing solutions supported by our multi-disciplinary team of licensed, trained and experienced health care providers,” says Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. “Making rapid antibody testing available across our family of pharmacies will not only provide an affordable and convenient testing solution for individuals who want to understand if they have previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, but also help clinicians understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and potential public health strategies for fighting the disease.”

For more information, visit here.

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