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.
City of Detroit Government – Council to Vote $31M Spending Plan
The City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department’s plan for spending $31 million in federal funding to help Detroit recover from the COVID-19 crisis is to be voted on by the City Council on Tuesday. The plan addresses housing instability that many Detroiters are facing because of the health and economic impact of the pandemic, as well as helps prevent further exposure to COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the city the funds through the federal CARES Act. Pending council approval, the city will receive $20.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds, and $10.5 million in Emergency Solutions Grant funds. These funds have been allocated to the city to relieve the challenges associated with fighting COVID-19 and must be used to directly target the virus, limit its spread, and reduce its direct economic impact.
“These funds will begin to help our city recover from this pandemic by keeping Detroiters in their homes and by assisting our most vulnerable residents,” Mayor Mike Duggan says. “However, it is really just the beginning, and we have requested additional federal funds to ensure that lives are saved, and Detroit’s recovery will not be undone by the virus’ devastating consequences on the economy.”
HRD has proposed using these initial funds to reduce housing disruptions caused by the pandemic, which could put even more Detroiters at risk of contracting the virus. The department proposes using the $21 million in CDBG-CV funding to invest in supportive housing, housing counseling, tax-filing assistance, housing search and placement, eviction defense, and rental assistance for landlords and tenants.
The ESG-CV funds focus on emergency services such as shelter and outreach as well as prevention and rapid re-housing to keep or limit the amount of time individuals are experiencing homelessness. All of these services will have an additional focus of mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on this population. This will be accomplished by improving the physical quality of shelters and increasing the capacity for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus; providing outreach to homeless members of the community without shelter; homelessness prevention, and funding rapid rehousing programs, which help households entering homelessness by quickly providing housing for up to 24 months.
“This is the largest contribution that HRD has made to these types of programs, and a major expansion of what we do to help our city,” says Donald Rencher, director of HRD. “It is more important than ever that we reduce the risks facing our fellow Detroiters who are experiencing homelessness. We strongly believe that permanent supportive housing plays a vital role in addressing homelessness. Our proposal also extends much-needed help to lower-income residents who are at risk of losing their homes and becoming homeless themselves.
“Further, we are funding a suite of programs so that Detroiters get the services that align most with their needs. This is important because people who find themselves in a housing stability crisis often aren’t experiencing it because of a single issue.”
The highlights of the proposed spending plan include:
- Emergency shelter services and outreach to reduce the spread of the virus at shelters.
- Rapid rehousing to move households out of homelessness and into permanent housing.
- Homelessness prevention and eviction avoidance legal counseling.
- Emergency rental assistance.
- Housing and financial counseling.
- Affordable housing development.
- Tax-filing preparation assistance.
- Senior healthy housing assistance.
- Senior home repair.
- Rental repair program.
State Government – MDHHS Updates and Adds COVID-19 Statistics on Website
In an effort to provide more information about COVID-19 in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is providing additional and improved statistics on its website michigan.gov/coronavirus. The new data presentation was developed by MDHHS staff using PowerBI software.
“We are continuing to improve the information we are providing as our goal is to share timely and accurate data during this pandemic,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Data is now being provided in visual, easy-to-understand graphs and allow users to display data by date, for their county or by preparedness region. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of MDHHS staff who made this possible.”
The following information now is being included are confirmed and probable cases and deaths by age group, sex, and race breakdowns for the state; preparedness regions and counties; total serologic and diagnostic tests by county and preparedness region, cumulative confirmed cases; and deaths by date.
State Government – Hospital Capacity, Ambulance, and Visitation Rules Loosened
Last week, the state relaxed COVID-19-related orders on hospital capacity, emergency medical services, hospital visitation.
“As we slowly and safely reopen our economy, it’s important to roll back emergency orders designed to deal with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Gov. Grechen Whitmer. “By rolling back executive orders and allowing more people to visit their loved ones in hospitals, it sends a clear signal we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19 and continue to move in a positive direction.”
Facilities still need to:
- Limit visitor entry to designated entrances that allow proper screening.
- Post signage at the visitor entrance instructing visitors to be assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 before entry and instructing persons who have symptoms of a respiratory infection, including, but not limited to, fever, cough, or shortness of breath to not enter the facility.
- Perform a health evaluation of all individuals that are not under the care of the facility each time the individual seeks to enter the facility and deny entry to those individuals who do not meet the evaluation criteria.
- Strongly discourage entering any facility to visit persons at high risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19, including older adults and persons with underlying medical conditions.
- Restrict visitation to the patient’s room or other designated locations.
- Require visitors who are medically able to wear a mask or other cloth face covering for the duration of their visit, and swiftly remove from the facility visitors who fail to abide by this requirement.
- For in-patient stays, make available on-site and off-site alternatives to in-person visits, such as video or audio calls;
- Disallow visitation during aerosol-generating procedures or during collection of respiratory specimens unless deemed necessary by hospital staff for the care and well-being of the patient.
- Permit visitation only during select hours and limits the number of visitors per resident.
- Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.
The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
How Viruses Can Impact the Heart
While many people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are able to manage symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath at home, there still are others that have relied on ventilators to help their lungs function. Cardiologist Henry Kim M.D. warns that lungs may not be the only organs impacted by the stress of the virus.
“Viruses can directly or indirectly affect the heart as well,” Kim says. “Some viruses infect the heart itself by directly impacting heart cells. Other times, viruses can attack blood cells that cause inflammation around the heart.”
Michigan National Guard Helps Communities Offer No-cost Testing
The Michigan National Guard continued its partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan State Police, and local health departments to offer COVID-19 testing this weekend in the communities of Holland, Ferndale, Battle Creek, Sturgis, Allegan, and Petoskey.
These drive-through sites offered tests at no cost to the public last weekend in Ferndale, Allegan, Battle Creek, Petoskey, and Sturgis.
The Michigan National Guard has more than 50 trained testing teams ready to assist, of which 21 currently are assigned to support the community testing mission. These three-member teams include a certified medic to conduct the testing and two members to assist with paperwork, logistics, and non-medical tasks. All team members from the Michigan National Guard have tested negative for COVID-19 and have been following strict medical protocols to ensure health and safety and to protect Michigan communities.
To find testing locations throughout Michigan, visit here.
Survey: Consumers Say Brands Will Need to Communicate Differently Post-COVID
New research from GfK, a New York market research company, shows that a slim majority (55 percent) of Americans believe that brands will need to adopt a new set of concerns and messages in the post-virus world. The remaining 45 percent feel that companies should return to pre-Coronavirus themes “as soon as possible,” so that consumers can “forget” that the COVID-19 crisis happened.
In the seventh wave of interviewing for its Consumer Pulse research, which has been tracking global reactions to the virus since mid-March, GfK also found that Americans from different circumstances have different feelings about appropriate post-COVID messaging. The latest GfK research found that:
- 66 percent of those with children under age 3 favor a return to pre-virus messaging, compared to just 34 percent of those who have no kids.
- 56 percent of people living in large urban metropolises would prefer that brands revert to earlier themes, versus 40 percent of those who live in small cities.
- 60 percent of women think brands should behave as if the post-virus world is completely different, while men are split 50-50 between forward-looking and nostalgic messaging.
GfK also found that the messages that consumers would like to see brands embrace after the crisis also split to some degree.
Those who think we should return to earlier themes are more likely to favor communications around brand innovations, promotions, and general product information.
Consumers who feel the “world is different” would prefer to see messaging about protecting the health of consumers and employees. Both groups put a high priority, however, on themes around price controls for key items.
“As we move into the summer, Americans and brands alike are ready to move on to the next chapter of life – a slow return to familiar activities and pleasures,” says Stacy Bereck, managing director of consumer insights and sales effectiveness and director of global consumer trends at GfK. “Our research shows that brands need to tread cautiously in this new phase, somehow addressing a very divided consumer public – some who might want to pretend that the virus never happened, and others who see it as a transition to a new world. With the world continuing to shift on an almost weekly basis, transformed by the virus and nationwide protests and outrage, companies need to monitor consumers’ changing concerns and needs even more closely.”
To review the full results of the survey, visit here.
The Michigan Venture Capital Association is hosting a webinar titled “Outside Perspectives: A Venture Conversation” on Thursday, June 11, at 11 a.m.
MVCA’s webinar series continues with a discussion with investors from out-of-state venture capital firms. The panel includes Thomas Ball, co-founder and managing director of Next Coast Ventures in Austin, Texas; Greg Robinson, managing director of 4490 Ventures in Madison, Wisc.; and Greg Beaufait, partner of Dundee Venture Capital in Omaha, Neb.
The webinar will be moderated by Ara Topouzian, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.
To register, visit here.
Small Business Recovery Funds Available
The Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the New Economy Initiative, the Small Business Administration, Michigan-based foundations, corporate partners, and individual donors, has secured funds to provide recovery grants and loans to diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses from underrepresented groups in Michigan. This fund is intended to assist geographically and demographically disadvantaged individuals.
The fund will provide two primary avenues of funding: Grants between $1,000 and $5,000 to assist with reopening or pivoting your business, and microloans between $5,000 and $10,000 loans with a one- to three-year repayment period at an 8 -percent fixed rate, fully amortizing, term loans.
Eligibility requirements include:
- Having a business ready to pivot, reopen and/or accommodate this new business environment.
- Have generated business revenue for at least 12 months with a maximum of $500,000 in annual revenue and you have fewer than 50 employees.
- Demonstrating a negative impact on your business operations due to COVID-19.
- The ability to submit a Cash Flow Forecast and Recovery Plan. A template will be provided by Michigan Women Forward within the application.
- Being Michigan-registered and in good standing (provide Certificate of Goods Standing) with priority given to businesses located in a designated HubZone or Opportunity Zone.
- The ability to provide historical financial statements.
For more information, visit here.
In Related News: The Black and Veatch COVID-19 Response Accelerator in Kansas is looking for companies with solutions that can reduce the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, but need help commercializing and rapidly deploying. The Black and Veatch COVID-19 Response Accelerator is designed for growing companies looking to scale emerging solutions to save lives, help communities cope, and protect the economy.
It is committing a minimum of $250,000 in the form of grants and/or in-kind services, with connections and resources to bring ideas to reality.
For more information, visit here.