COVID-19 Update: Furniture Retailer Gardner-White Looks to Add 250 Jobs, U.S. Department of Labor Issues OSHA Guidance as More Return to Work, 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 June 18

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.

Gardner-White Hiring 250 Employees
Gardner-White, the furniture retailer based in Auburn Hills, is embarking on the largest hiring effort in the company’s history, looking to add more than 250 new employees immediately.

“We have rewarding high-paying jobs available now in our corporate, customer service, sales, drivers, and warehouse divisions,” says Rachel Stewart, president of Gardner-White. “We know there are a lot of talented former Art Van employees looking to serve their customers in a family-oriented environment with quality products. Come check us out at Gardner-White. You’ll find a satisfying career with lots of promotions from within.”

The company says it is enhancing its benefits packages to make these jobs even more attractive to Metro Detroiters who are unemployed or looking to change or seek out a new career path.

“Employees will have health care coverage beginning on day one,” says Stewart. “We are looking for people to make this a long-term career choice so we are offering one of the best benefits packages in the state.”

With 11 locations in cities throughout southeast Michigan, Gardner-White says it plans to be the consumer’s first choice now that Art Van has vacated the market.

“This will be a new Gardner-White,” says Stewart. “We are looking at all aspects of our business to determine how we can better serve our existing customers and employees while engaging new ones.”

Over the next several months, in addition to bolstering its workforce, Gardner- White will refine its in-store merchandising strategy, promotional plan, and its product lineup.

For a complete list of Gardner-White job openings, visit here.

Federal Government – Department of Labor Issues OSHA Guidance as More Return to Work
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House’s Guidelines for Opening up America Again.

The guidelines provide general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During each phase of the reopening process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

Non-essential businesses should reopen as state and local governments lift stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and follow public health recommendations from the CDC and other federal requirements or guidelines. Employers should continue to consider ways to use workplace flexibilities, such as remote work and alternative business operations, to provide goods and services to customers.

OSHA recommends that employers continually monitor federal, state, and local government guidelines for updated information about ongoing community transmission and mitigation measures, as well as for evolving guidance on disinfection and other best practices for worker protection.

Visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage frequently for updates. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit here.

State Government – Governor Extends State of Emergency Through July 16, Expects State to Further Open July 4
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday signed Executive Order 2020-127, which extends the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic until July 16.

With the reduction in COVID-19 case counts in recent weeks, the governor has relaxed restrictions on business activities and daily life. On June 1, she announced that most of the state would move to Phase 4 of the governor’s start plan, allowing retailers and restaurants to resume operations.

Hair salons and other personal care services followed two weeks later. And on June 10, the Upper Peninsula and the region surrounding Traverse City were moved to Phase 5 allowing for the reopening of movie theaters, gyms, and bowling alleys. If current trends continue the rest of the state will be moved to Phase 5 by July 4, she says.

To view Executive Order 2020-127, visit here.

Troy Technology Firm Develops Software to Aid Safe Return to Work
PDANS Inc., a technology company headquartered in Troy, today released Test Alerts, a free screening tool that enables efficient, contact-free collection of COVID-19 survey data that allows employers to monitor daily collection data via a secure dashboard and a variety of reports.

Following survey completion by employees or visitors, alerts are sent to immediately notify the company of any potential coronavirus risks. The secure portal is free for all users and is scalable for use by any size business. The company says this contact-free health screening process can help ensure the wellbeing of employees, staff, and visitors.

Employees or visitors can initiate the survey by either scanning a quick response code or entering a six-digit PIN in the web app. Questions in the self-declaration form easily can be answered upon arrival at work, at home or in their automobile prior to entering. This helps reduce the potential impact of touching shared keyboards, mice, pencils, or paper. At the end of the process, a green check OK TO ENTER or red flag DO NOT ENTER is displayed on the respondents’ phone. When a survey is red flagged, an alert is immediately sent by email to the employer’s customizable list of alert recipients so they can take desired actions. On a respondents’ arrival, the green check, which includes the current date, can be shown to facility security indicating they have taken the survey and that the answers were compliant with entry requirements.

Daily logs and survey reports can be generated as needed. Reports include daily checklists, historical visitor lists and aggregated totals by location or entrance.

For more information, visit here, or contact Roy Johnson at

Detroit’s Guardhat and California’s Oloid Partner to Bring Contact Tracing to the Workforce
Detroit’s Guardhat is partnering with California-based Oloid to integrate its spatial and geofencing IoT solutions with Oloid’s AI-enabled touchless workplace system, allowing organizations to operate under CDC recommendations for social distancing and elevated body temperature scanning by integrating a platform for workplace contact tracing with a company’s existing systems and hardware.

“By combining both the Guardhat and Oloid technologies, we are able to provide an extremely streamlined solution for organizations to safely and effectively bring their employees back to work,” says Kaushik Sarkar, head of global sales at Guardhat. “This solution allows organizations to easily implement precautionary guidelines set by government entities such as the CDC and OSHA.”

To minimize the number of physical touchpoints and high-touch surfaces, the combined solution will enable organizations to test temperatures and contact trace employees at a particular site. This will allow an organization to quickly identify employees who may need to be isolated, while simultaneously determining who they may have had close interactions with – ultimately allowing an organization to take preventative measures to reduce the spread of any infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Guardhat will be able to provide information specific to employee contact both before and after symptoms have been reported. By utilizing its tracing and location monitoring solution, companies will be able to instantly inform employees when they are within social distancing guidelines as provided by the CDC.

In addition, employers will be able to leverage the technology to create modified arrangements of dynamic workplace environments – including common areas and manufacturing sites.

“Many companies in essential industries are evaluating how to keep their workforce safe by leveraging the latest technologies, without compromising on privacy,” says Madhu Madhusudhanan, chief technology officer at Oloid. “It is our privilege to serve the deskless workforce by introducing our privacy-forward technology that can help them get back to work with one less thing to worry about.”

Both systems can easily integrate with standard tablets, cameras, IT, and HR systems ensuring no disruptions in security and a quick and streamlined process for product integration.

For more information, visit here.

Higher Education
A new articulation agreement between Mid Michigan College, in Harrison north of Mt. Pleasant, and Wayne State University will allow Mid students who follow a prescribed plan of study to transfer up to 82 credits to WSU while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the Mike Ilitch School of Business, saving between $14,000 and $22,000 in tuition.

“Mid’s mission is to empower learners and transform communities, and this type of partnership accomplishes just that,” says Christine Hammond, president of Mid Michigan College. “Not only do Mid’s students benefit from increased options for continuing their educations beyond us, but they broaden their connections to communities and perspectives beyond the mid-Michigan region.”

Effective this fall, Mid students who receive an associate of arts in business studies can transfer up to 82 credits – more than the currently stipulated 64 – while pursuing a bachelor’s in the Ilitch School in accounting, finance, global supply chain, information systems, management, or marketing.

“We are very excited about this partnership with Mid Michigan College as it highlights the commitment of both institutions to providing our students with the best opportunities for success and continuing their progress to a four-year degree from a Research 1 university,” says Keith Whitfield, provost of WSU.  “This type of post-secondary agreement is a key to helping students from around the state seamlessly attain a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University, and they can do it in-person, online, or remotely.”

Qualified transfer students will be eligible for these Ilitch School and WSU programs:

AGRADE: an accelerated graduate program option allowing students to apply up to 12 credits toward both their undergraduate and these specific graduate degrees: master’s in business administration (MBA), master’s in accounting, master’s in finance or executive master’s in automotive supply chain management. Students save money by earning graduate credits at undergraduate tuition rates and can complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in as little as five years.

Warriors Business Community: Located in the Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, the WBC allows students to live, learn and develop professional connections together on the WSU campus in the heart of Midtown Detroit. The WBC encourages community involvement, supports academic success, and provides a fun atmosphere for students to develop lasting relationships with fellow future professionals and business leaders around metro Detroit.

Transfer merit scholarships: All community college transfer students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 and 30 transferrable credits will be considered for a variety of transfer merit scholarships. The awards range in value from $2,000 to $6,000 per year for up to two years.

Irvin D. Reid Honors College: Students who transfer at least 12 credits to WSU with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 are invited to join the Honors College and pursue University Honors or Departmental Honors in their major. Graduating with honors demonstrates academic excellence and further enhances the value of a Wayne State degree.

Prospective students can apply online here, by email at or call 989-386-6661.

In Related News: Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti is launching a new graduate academic program that will offer public health training for professionals to partner with individuals and communities to prevent disease and injury and promote optimal health for all people.

“Public health encompasses the shared disciplines of health education, health promotion and overall community health, making the Master of Public Health degree a highly valued degree in terms of employment,” saya Rhonda Longworth, provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs at EMU. “The current global health crisis as a result of COVID-19 is leading to greater interest in pursuing a public health degree.”

Longworth says the new program is distinct among Eastern Michigan University peers in terms of its defined focus on public health education. Graduates from in the program will have achieved the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing core competencies and be eligible to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist exam, which many employers require.

“In addition, many students expect to engage with the community while pursuing their degrees,” Longworth says. “The University’s proximity to the Washtenaw County Health Department, as well as health departments in surrounding counties, offers special opportunities for student involvement, potential field placement or employment.”

JVS Human Services Starts Virtual Book Club
JVS Human Services in Southfield is organizing a new Virtual Book Club aimed to help senior citizens who are isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by a grant from United Way Southeastern Michigan, the Book Club will meet via Zoon every other Wednesday at 11 a.m., starting on June 24.

“As the state is opening up and activities for younger people are freeing up, the older population is still asked to shelter in place because it is more vulnerable,” says Debi Banooni, director of senior adult services at JVS Human Services. “It is so important for seniors to continually exercise their brains – as well as exercise their bodies – and our programs are providing an educational and supportive content, with an important socializing component too.”

Participants will read the book and discuss in sections as they go along. There also will be time for socializing. The first book selection is “One Thousand White Women” by Jim Fergus, a novel about white women who travel to the western prairies in 1875 to marry Cheyenne Indians. Subsequent books will be chosen with input from participants.

Other programs being offered include a virtual exercise group that was bi-monthly but is now starting to go weekly, Gray Matters – a monthly virtual meeting where speakers talk about different areas of brain health, a weekly Connections Group weekly for socializing, and a Caregiver Support Group for those that need to provide care to another person.

For more information and to sign up for any of these programs, contact Debi Banooni at, or call 248-320-5147.

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