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.
Ford Sales Dip 9.8% in Q4 and 15.6% for the Year
Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn announced it sold a total of 542,749 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 2,044,744 for the year, marking decreases of 9.8 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.
Truck sales of 288,698 in the quarter represented a 12.5 percent drop compared to 2019 figures. Car sales of 37,319 was a 21.5 percent decrease compared to the same period last year. SUV sales showed a 4 percent increase with 216,732 deliveries.
“Fourth quarter represented an inflection point at Ford in our transition from cars to a much greater focus on iconic trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles to better serve our customers,” says Andrew Frick, vice president of sales for the U.S. and Canada at Ford. “We began to see our strongest evidence of this in December with retail sales up 5.3 percent with the launch of our new F-150, Bronco Sport, and Mustang Mach-E. We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021.”
Explorer led the way in the SUV category with Q4 sales of 66,008. The all-new Bronco Sport began sales in Q4, with 5,120 unit sales. The all-new Bronco Sport is averaging just six days on dealer lots. At the end of December, Mustang Mach-E also began its first sales.
Traditional Mustang sales totaled 61,090 for the year, marking its sixth straight year as America’s best-selling sports car. Mustang also finished the final quarter on total sales of 13,453 cars. Mustang sales were up 14.8 percent for the quarter. Combined Q4 retail sales of Shelby GT350 and GT500 increased 36 percent, with retail sales up 14 percent for the year.
F-Series pickup sales totaled 787,422 in 2020, making it the nation’s best-selling pickup for the 44th consecutive year. While Q4 F-150 sales were off 32.7 percent, on short inventory, the all-new F-150 is averaging just six days on dealer lots with F-150 Hybrid starting sales in December.
Lincoln had its best annual retail luxury SUV performance since 2003. Aviator sales were up 13.3 percent for the quarter, while the Corsair was up 6.6 percent with sales of 8,050. Aviator’s Q4 retail share gained 7.2 percentage points, giving it 11.2 percent of the premium large SUV segment.
Michigan Enters Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccination
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials have announced that the state is moving to the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 11.
MDHHS is moving forward with vaccination of Michiganders age 65 and older; frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers, jail and prison staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers.
To date, 80 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred among those age 65 and older. In addition to vaccinating Michiganders who are over 75 in Phase 1B (Phase 1B, Group A), MDHHS is accelerating to vaccinate individuals 65-74 years old (Phase 1C Group A). MDHHS is accelerating implementation of vaccination of individuals 65-74 years due to concern around disparity in life expectancy by race/ethnicity for this group (Phase 1C, Group A).
All counties may begin vaccinating residents over age 65 and seniors are urged to visit here to find local health departments and other local vaccine clinics near them that are ready to book appointments. Eligible essential workers, teachers, and childcare workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinic dates and locations. Eligible individuals should not go to any of the clinics without an appointment.
It is important to note that there is limited vaccine available in the state, and so there will be limited appointments available. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will be able to move more quickly through the priority groups.
More than 140,000 of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to health care workers with more than 8,000 of those doses going to nursing home residents and staff. This data is being tracked on the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, which also includes information on the number of providers enrolled to provide the vaccine and vaccination coverage rates by age and race.
There will be no out-of-pocket costs to individuals for the vaccine, however, health care providers may bill insurance for administrative costs. The COVID-19 vaccine will require two doses, separated by three or four weeks depending on the manufacturer. Michiganders should receive both doses in order to have full protection from the virus. Individuals who receive the vaccine may experience mild side effects such as low-grade fever, sore arm and general discomfort, which indicate that the vaccine is working.
Detroit Historical Museum Planning MLK Day Virtual Film Screening
The Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Sites Committee and the Detroit Historical Museum will present an in-depth look into how race and geography have played a role in naming streets after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and whether the streets have lived up to his legacy and dreams.
The free virtual event will take place Jan. 18 from 1-3 p.m. and include a viewing of the 15-minute film short “King Blvd.” A panel discussion will follow.
The panel will feature “King Blvd.” producer Earl Hardy, University of Tennessee professor Derek Alderman, and local historian Jamon Jordan.
For more information and to register, visit here.
Detroit Boat Show Goes Virtual Jan. 16-24
The next in-person Progressive Detroit Boat Show won’t take place until January 2022, but boaters will still be able to look forward to this spring’s boating season virtually Jan. 16-24.
By logging in to www.boatmichigan.org consumers start their search for a new boat, marina, boating gear, or services. Boaters will find the same marine businesses that normally exhibit at the boat show. Also available are tools to help consumers understand how affordable boating can be, how easy boats are to operate, discover the perfect boat for their needs, and how easy it is to get on the water. A special event listing and details on dealer / manufacturer discounts also are provided. Admission is free and hours will vary from business to business.
“This year, more than ever, if someone is interested in purchasing a boat, a January order is imperative,” says Nicki Polan, executive director of the show. “This past summer, when the pandemic hit, thousands of people turned to the outdoors for safe and fun recreational opportunities with their families and boating came to the forefront. I think at one point this summer every last boat in Michigan was sold. Manufacturers continue to work to catch up with demand as they too had been shut down initially and faced supply chain issues.”
HFHS Study: Better Fitness Can Reduce Severity of COVID-19
Those in better aerobic shape are less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to a new study published by researchers at Henry Ford Health System.
This study, published in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, is one of the first studies to report an association between aerobic fitness — fitness of the heart and lungs — and COVID-19 hospitalization risk.
“This is one more reason to take that walk or get on the exercise bike,” says Clinton Brawner, lead researcher and clinical exercise physiologist on the senior bioscientific medical staff in preventive cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “It adds to the current understanding that exercise and good fitness levels are related to a lower risk of upper respiratory tract infections like COVID-19 and suggests that people may generally tolerate this infection better if they are more fit.”
The systemic inflammatory response to viral infections like COVID-19 has a significant effect on the heart and lungs, or cardiopulmonary system, according to the study. Aerobic-type exercise training, such as walking or jogging, increases a person’s cardiopulmonary fitness and improves immune function, both of which play an important role in reducing the negative effects associated with respiratory infections, the Henry Ford researchers point out.
The Henry Ford study looked at more than 18,000 patients who underwent an exercise stress test on a treadmill between January 2016 and February 29, 2020. Of those patients, 1,181 were tested for the COVID-19 virus between Feb. 29 and May 31. And 246 (21 percent) of those patients tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19; 89 (36 percent) ended up being hospitalized due to COVID-19.
The researchers then looked at the difference in aerobic fitness between those COVID-positive patients who were eventually hospitalized and those who were not. They measured fitness levels using “metabolic equivalents of task,” or METs, the standard measurement of aerobic fitness used during stress tests. One MET is the amount of energy used at seated rest. Walking at 3 miles per hour (mph) equals about 3.5 METs.
The researchers found those who were hospitalized had a lower fitness level than those who were not hospitalized. In the study, each 1 MET higher peak fitness was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of hospitalization from COVID-19.
“The take-home message from our study is higher fitness is related to a lower risk of hospitalization from COVID-19,” says Jonathan Ehrman, associate program director of preventive cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital and a study co-author. “Our data suggests that striving to achieve a peak fitness level of at least 7.5 METS — equivalent to slow jogging — might be a good goal for our patients and general population to achieve a lower risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.”
The current public health recommendation is to exercise and perform at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week, or a mix of both.