COVID-19 Update: Feds Approve Michigan Disaster Declaration, Relief for Small Businesses, Hospital Updates, and More

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the pandemic as well as announcements from local, state, and federal governments, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronaviruses from Bridge
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 29

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the pandemic as well as announcements from local, state, and federal governments, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

President Approves Michigan’s Disaster Declaration, Extends Social Distancing Guidelines to April 30
On March 28, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the state of Michigan and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020, and continuing.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the state.

Federal funding also is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas of Michigan impacted by COVID-19.

Pete Gaynor, administrator of FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security, named James K. Joseph as the federal coordinating officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

On Sunday, March 29, the President extended the national guidelines for social distancing until at least April 30.

Stock Market
According to multiple reports, stocks declined on Friday but remained up with the Dow ending up 13 percent last week, its best weekly period since 1938. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite topped 10 percent last week.

According to The Wall Street Journal Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he expects the U.S. economy will “bounce back very quickly” after coronavirus shutdowns are lifted, and that he “absolutely” believes the economy could expand by 5 percent in the fourth quarter. Mnuchin also indicated businesses will be able to get bank loans by “next Friday (April 3),” saying it will be a “very simple process where any FDIC-insured institution can underwrite the loan, approve it immediately as a government-guaranteed loan, and get money to that small business.”

The Journal also reports that according to Administration officials, the U.S. is planning to stop collecting import tariffs for three months to provide financial relief to U.S. companies during the coronavirus pandemic. An Administration official said that companies would still be responsible for the tariffs at a yet to be determined later date.

Relief for Detroit Small Business
The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is collaborating with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Wayne County, and the city of Detroit to help Detroit small businesses survive the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, the city and county have been allocated $1.6 million to be distributed to small businesses throughout the area. Specifically, DEGC will program funds to support Detroit businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow as a result of COVID-19.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our community,” says Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of the DEGC. “Losing these businesses would devastate Detroit neighborhoods. With both our private and public partners, we’re working to get cash to businesses now – when they need it – as part of DEGC’s overarching plan to sustain businesses during the health crisis.”

In order to qualify for grant support, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • The business is among the type outlined in Executive Order 2020-9 and demonstrates a negative impact resulting from COVID-19
  • The company has 50 or fewer employees
  • The company needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur regularly
  • The company is able to demonstrate an income loss as a result of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order or the COVID-19 outbreak

The grant program has been crafted to give the state’s small businesses a fighting chance to get back on track after being impacted by COVID-19, according to Pierre Batton, vice president of DEGC Small Business Services.

“Businesses need help with a variety of expenses,” he says. “They will be able to layer this grant with other resources available to maximize the relief they can receive.”

For businesses not eligible for grant funds, MEDC also has established a loan fund. Statewide, MEDC’s relief program will provide up to $20 million in loans and grants to support small businesses – $10 million of which will be earmarked for small business grants. For additional information regarding the state of Michigan’s resources relative to COVID-19, please visit here.

Applications for Detroit businesses will open early this week. A specific DEGC COVID-19 relief portal will be set up to process applications.

Henry Ford Health System provided a status of its operations this morning.

Blood Donations: Two blood drives scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, at Health Alliance Plan’s corporate offices in Troy and Wednesday, April 1, at Henry Ford’s corporate offices in Detroit are full. We appreciate the support of those who registered to donate and help address a critical need.

Send Well Wishes to Patients: For hospitalized patients, hearing from friends and family is always an important part of recovery. During the current COVID-19 outbreak, connecting with well-wishers from the community may be just as important. The “Well Wishes” online community platform allows loved ones and the community to share well wishes and words of inspiration. The messages are displayed on the televisions in patient rooms on a dedicated channel.

Community Donations: Henry Ford is grateful for the outpouring of support from local businesses and organizations wishing to donate medical supplies. These Henry Ford locations are accepting new and unused medical supplies at their shipping and receiving docks:

  • Henry Ford corporate offices, One Ford Place Drive, Detroit, between Second and Third streets, 3 ½ blocks south of West Grand Boulevard. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sundays.
  • Henry Ford Allegiance Health, 205 N. East Ave., Jackson. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, 15855 19 Mile Road, Clinton Township. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, 6777 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, 2333 Biddle, Wyandotte. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Patient Hotline: 313.874.1055 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

The athletic trainers at Henry Ford Health System, a team of more than 40 licensed professionals that traditionally work in outreach settings across secondary schools, college/university, and professional teams, have redeployed to fill staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and are providing essential support to the system in many ways including:

  • COVID-19 screenings for employees, incoming patients and essential visitors, and communicating new visitor policy
  • Assisting in emergency rooms and walk-in clinics
  • Transporting patients to isolation wings ensuring safety protocols are followed
  • Reaching out to pharmacy patients to encourage the use of Henry Ford’s Pharmacy Advantage mail order service, confirming information and helping package prescriptions for delivery
  • Rehabilitating patients with orthopedic injuries that need essential care
  • A small percentage of athletic trainers have maintained their outreach-focused roles to ensure that the health care of athletes is continued, both in-person as appropriate and via telehealth channels.

“I admire the dedication and willingness of our athletic trainers to quickly shift their focus from their normal daily operations to the unique patient and staffing needs that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Robert Albers, part of the Sports Medicine Primary Care physicians team at Henry Ford. “I am confident that their skill sets will allow them to play a critical role in supporting our medical community during this time of need.”

In Michigan, athletic trainers are licensed health care providers through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the same governing body that regulates licensing for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses and physical therapists.

State Entrepreneurial Webinar
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Venture Capital Association are conducting a webinar for Michigan entrepreneurs on April 2 at 10 a.m.

Josh Hundt, chief business development officer and executive vice president with the MEDC will talk with Ara Topouzian, executive director of MVCA about state resources available to assist Michigan entrepreneurs and the startup community during the COVID19 crisis.

Hundt leads the organization’s business retention and attraction activities, entrepreneurship and innovation efforts, automotive and mobility initiatives through the PlanetM program, international trade development, Pure Michigan Business Connect program, business financing and incentives, and defense industry programs.

No registration required. Visit here to join the webinar.

Video Medical Appointments
Premier Medicine of Livonia now is offering outpatient video appointments and drive-up testing to help ease the burden on hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With a significant number of urgent and primary care facilities closing, Premier Medicine has opened a testing center and telemedicine hub to allow residents to seek treatment while maintaining the social distancing measures needed to mitigate the spread of the virus.

By treating patients via telemedicine and offering drive-up COVID-19 testing, Premier is working to help reduce the number of patients admitted to the hospital as the entire state seeks ways to prevent overcrowding in hospitals. Telemedicine saves time, space and equipment for hospital staff stretched thin to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those wishing to schedule a telemedicine appointment should call 248-987-1260 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Drive-up testing is only provided to patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 following their telemedical exam.

Tests will not be provided without an examination. Premier Medicine accepts all patients, including the uninsured and underinsured.

Medical Supplies
Kyyba Innovations in Farmington Hills is aggregating medical supplies from other countries to then be delivered structurally to all hospital systems in Michigan and any place in the U.S. where there is a shortage. Kyyba is requesting all investors, personal protection equipment suppliers, entrepreneurs, and importers to participate in the effort. Potential collaborators should contact Tel K. Ganesan at

Lawrence Technological University’s buildings may be closed, but the education of thousands of students is humming along online. In a week’s time, LTU’s eLearning Services office and faculty moved nearly 700 courses to an online format. Approximately 350 faculty members made the move.

LTU’s laptop program, which gives every undergraduate student a top-of-the-line laptop computer and all software required for their courses, also played a key role.

LTU announced during its spring break week March 9-13 that it would extend that break a week and move to online education March 23. Online classes will continue through the end of the semester May 15, and LTU’s scheduled May 9 Commencement was postponed to December.

La-Z-Boy COVID-19 Action Plan
Monroe’s La-Z-Boy Inc. is closing its U.S. manufacturing facilities, effective immediately, to be re-evaluated on April 13. The company also is closing its company-owned La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, its regional distribution centers once in-process orders are delivered. In light of these temporary closures, the company is taking the following measured actions to facilitate a strong ramp up once it resumes operations:

  • The furlough of approximately 6,800 employees, or approximately 70 percent of its global workforce
  • A salary reduction of 50 percent for senior management and 25 percent for salaried employees until further notice; additionally, the board of directors will forego the cash portion of its compensation until further notice
  • A freeze of the company’s 401(k) match
  • Elimination of all non-essential operating expenses and capital expenditures
  • Elimination of the June quarterly dividend and termination of the share repurchase program indefinitely to prioritize near-term financial flexibility

In addition to almost $200 million in cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and investments on hand, to strengthen its financial position and preserve liquidity, the company has proactively drawn $75 million under its $150 million revolving credit facility.

“While the decisions made were extremely difficult and we deeply regret the impact they will have on those affected and their families, they are deemed necessary as we face one of the most challenging periods in our history,” says Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president and CEO of La-Z-Boy.

Free Bike Sharing in Detroit
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic MoGo, Detroit’s nonprofit bike share system, announced today that it now is offering its monthly pass for free.

Riders can sign up for MoGo’s free monthly pass via the Transit app or MoGo’s website. No promotional code is needed. Additionally, all existing monthly pass holders will renew this month for free. MoGo’s monthly pass is good for 30 days and provides an unlimited number of station-to-station trips up to 30 minutes. Overage fees still apply to trips over 30 minutes.

To help keep riders safe, MoGo has added enhanced cleaning procedures to its routine bike and station checks. Handlebars and seats are thoroughly cleaned, as well as docking points, kiosk screens, credit card slots, and receipt dispensers. The MoGo team is regularly cleaning its vans, and any bikes that are in the warehouse for maintenance are thoroughly cleaned before returning to the field.

Million Meal Challenge
To address the demand on the state’s seven regional food banks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Cos. and the Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan Agent Charitable Fund today launched a statewide fundraiser, The Million Meal Challenge.

The Agent Charitable Fund and Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan will donate $50,000 during the Million Meal Challenge and will match up to $50,000 in additional donations from members, clients, and supporters.

The Agent Charitable Fund serves as the fund for Farm Bureau agents, clients, and partners to contribute to causes throughout Michigan. Its mission is to end hunger in Michigan. The Food Bank Council of Michigan and Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies is dedicated to Michigan residents. To donate toward the Million Meal Challenge, visit here.

Steak ‘n Shake is recognizing and supporting the thousands of people nationwide who are working jobs in designated “essential services.”

Effective through April 7 at all Steak ‘n Shake restaurants across America, workers in the following industries just need to show a job I.D., such as a business card, badge, or name tag, to receive 20 percent off of any steakburger or fries.

Professions include but are not limited to: doctors, nurses, healthcare providers and hospital staff (including maintenance and custodial workers); police and other law enforcement agencies; EMT; local 911 and fire departments; pharmacy/drugstore, grocery store workers and food distributors; custodian and facilities maintainers; local government officials; bank managers and tellers; restaurant workers; television and newspaper staffers; cashiers, stockroom and loading dock workers; food banks and soup kitchens; city sanitation workers; IT companies and transit workers (airports, trains, subways); mail and package delivery services including the U.S. Postal Service, Fedex, and UPS.

Butzel Long Webinars
Detroit’s Butzel Long is hosting two free webinars on Tuesday: “Response to the Spread of COVID-19: The Impact on Employment of Foreign Nationals” from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. and “The CARES Act: What Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need to Know” from 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted various aspects of employment-based immigration in the U.S. Employers are faced with closing facilities, working remotely, furloughs, layoffs, and possible terminations. Prior to the virus, employers’ main focus was obtaining and retaining talent. Employers have relied on foreign nationals to fill some of the talent gaps.

Foreign national employees work on visas or have statuses that allow them to work in the U.S. In some instances, spouses with dependent visas also have employment authorization. Foreign national employees are affected by the business changes caused by COVID-19, and many are being sponsored by employers for permanent resident status, or green cards. In “Response to the Spread of COVID-19: The Impact on Employment of Nationals” Butzel Long attorneys will discuss options for employers to retain talent and allow for foreign national employees to maintain status and remain in the U.S. legally.

President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020, or CARES Act, which provides more than $2 trillion in emergency economic relief for businesses, families, and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It is the largest stimulus or rescue package in American history. The act represents the third piece of legislation intended to help families and companies impacted by the virus.

“The CARES Act: What Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need to Know” will provide highlights of potential economic relief opportunities for small- and mid-size businesses, including the $349 Billion Paycheck Protection Program, which could provide up to $10 million in loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to maintain their payroll costs.

More information and registration for the webinars can be found here.