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.
State Government – Governor Rescinds Stay Home Order, Lifts Restrictions on Businesses
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday issued Executive Order 2020-110, rescinding her Safer at Home order and moving the entire state to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan, a move critics consider long overdue.
The governor’s order will allow retailers to reopen on June 4 and restaurants to reopen on June 8, both subject to capacity limits. Day camps for children likewise will be permitted to open on June 8.
Effective immediately, groups of 100 or less will be allowed gather outdoors with social distancing. Office work that is not capable of being performed remotely can resume. And in-home services, including housecleaning services, can resume operations.
A statement from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce read: “While today’s announcement is encouraging, it is long overdue. Over the last three months, Gov. Whitmer’s 110 executive orders have been contradictory, confusing, and arbitrary. Overly complicated and restrictive orders have led to absolute chaos and economic calamity.”
According to the Executive Order, Michiganders must continue to wear facial coverings when in enclosed public spaces and should continue to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community. And they should continue to work from home to the maximum extent possible.
Businesses that remain shuttered include casinos, indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios, and facilities offering non-essential personal care services, including hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services, and similar personal care services that involve close contact of persons.
“We are extremely frustrated by Gov. Whitmer’s decision to open most of Michigan’s economy while keeping salons and barber shops closed,” says Mike Sarafa on behalf of Safe Salons for Michigan. “Last week, the Safe Salons for Michigan coalition presented Gov. Whitmer with our eight-pillar plan for reopening safely. Despite our comprehensive plan, including state-of-the-art sanitary and procedural measures to keep our employees and clients safe, the governor is keeping us closed. Not only is this gutting the salon industry, but we are also losing business to neighboring states every day. We firmly believe we are safer open than closed. We urge Gov. Whitmer to review our plan and allow licensed salons and barber shops to open immediately.”
According to the new Executive Order, businesses and building owners, and those authorized to act on their behalf, are permitted to deny entry or access to any individual who refuses to wear a mask.
Unless otherwise prohibited by local regulation, outdoor parks and recreational facilities may be open, provided that they make any reasonable modifications necessary to enable employees and patrons not part of the same household to maintain six feet of distance from one another, and provided that areas in which social distancing cannot be maintained be closed, subject to guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Libraries and museums may open as of June 8, subject to the rules governing retail stores described in Executive Order 2020-97.
Also allowed to open as a result of Executive Order 2020-110 include outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions, or games, provided that coaches, spectators, and participants not from the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times during such activities, and that equipment and supplies are shared to the minimum extent possible and are subject to frequent and thorough disinfection and cleaning.
In addition, services necessary for medical treatment as determined by a licensed medical provider, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, crisis shelters, and food courts inside the secured zones of airports are allowed to operate.
Visit here to view the full text of Executive Order 2020-110.
In Related News: The Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit has announced that it has resumed all of its cancer care services now that the governor has lifted restrictions on non-COVID-19-related medical activities.
New patients and those with postponed appointments now can schedule surveillance and follow up visits, preventative care and clinical trials. Patients seeking screening services such as mammograms and lung cancer screening also may make appointments.
As Michigan’s only hospital focused solely on cancer, Karmanos continued seeing patients for life-saving treatments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhanced screening and safety procedures were put into place to keep patients and health care workers safe.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of patients seen by Karmanos Cancer Institute decreased significantly. While this is largely due to the restrictions put into place by the state of Michigan, some patients may have opted to delay care out of concern or anxiety.
“While the Coronavirus has forced us to consider many risks, the possibility of missing early diagnosis can be consequential,” says Dr. Justin Klamerus, president of Karmanos Cancer Hospital and Network. “Patients who delay care or negate screening may be in danger of missing treatment before it’s too late. We want to assure anyone who is diagnosed with cancer that they can receive treatment in an environment where safety is paramount. We’re adhering to stringent protocols and taking extra precautions during this time. Cancer won’t wait for COVID to pass, and neither should you.”
State Government – State Requires Auto Insurance Refunds Due to COVID-19
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced that DIFS Director Anita Fox has ordered all auto insurers in Michigan to issue refunds or premium waivers to consumers as a result of insurance companies’ reduced risk due to extreme reductions in driving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DIFS Order No. 2020-10-M sets a deadline of June 10, for insurers to submit filings that include the refund or premium waiver amount, information on how that amount was determined, and how consumers will receive payments. It also requires communication plans to inform customers about the refund and the options available to those with long term changes in driving habits, for example those who have been laid off or are telecommuting.
“This order will ensure all insurers are issuing appropriate refunds or premium waivers to their customers,” says Fox. “Consumers may realize additional savings by modifying their policies to reflect their current driving habits. Drivers should contact their agent to discuss garaging a car or making other changes to save on their premiums.”
DIFS can assist consumers with questions or disputes that cannot be directly resolved with their insurer. Contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 833-ASK-DIFS (275-3437) or by emailing email@example.com.
The premium waivers or refunds are in addition to any savings resulting from the upcoming changes to Michigan’s auto insurance law, which has shown reductions to statewide average premiums for personal injury protection medical coverage for policies issued or renewed after July 1.
Federal Government – HHS Adds $628M to Operation Warp Speed Contract
As part of the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced a task order with Emergent BioSolutions to advance manufacturing capabilities and capacity for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as well as therapeutics.
The task order is worth approximately $628 million and falls under an existing contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Under the task order, Emergent will commit contract development and manufacturing organization drug substance and drug product manufacturing capacity valued at approximately $542.75 million for production of COVID-19 vaccine candidates through 2021, in addition to an investment of approximately $85.5 million for the rapid expansion of Emergent’s viral and non-viral CDMO fill / finish capacity for vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing.
DMC’s Rehab Institute of Michigan Launches COVID-19 Recovery Program
The Detroit Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s has launched a new COVID-19 Rehab Recovery Program that focuses on the unique needs of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
After prolonged hospitalization and weeks on a ventilator, COVID-19 survivors may have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, breathing, talking, swallowing, and performing other daily tasks that most people take for granted. In addition, periods of long isolation and facing a life-threatening illness can result in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Starting a rehab program soon after COVID-19 recovery, can help these patients get back to their normal lives and activities as quickly as possible.
“We are grateful for the front-line medical providers for the critical role they played in saving these patients lives,” says Patty Jobbitt, CEO of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. “The surge of patients has now moved to rehabilitation hospitals. We are the new face of the front-line workers and our job is to help these patients live their lives again.”
The program will initially be available at three of RIM’s outpatient locations: RIM’s Main Campus (261 Mack in Detroit) RIM’s Northwest Detroit Center (17330 Schaefer Hwy.) and RIM’s Sterling Heights Center (33464 Schoenherr Rd.). The program will expand to additional RIM outpatient locations by July.
An online assessment is available here for patients to see if they can benefit from RIM’s COVID-19 Rehab Recovery Program. A prescription from a physician is needed to begin therapy. For more information, call 313-745-1100 or email at RIMrehab.org/appointments.
GM Launches STEM Summer School Series on YouTube
General Motors Co. in Detroit has released a free educational video series on YouTube designed to foster ingenuity through hands-on activities, while educating kids about electric vehicle technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Electrifying Engineering episodes will be released on YouTube every Sunday through July. Episodes are hosted by different members of the GM team and touch on a wide range of topics, including electric car charging, electric car motors, autonomous vehicle sensors, and more. Episodes will feature an interactive engineering project designed for viewers to conduct in the comfort of their own homes, with everyday household items.
When the project is complete, viewers are encouraged to share a picture on social media using the hashtag #ElectrifyingEngineering.
MSU Researchers Launch Animated Global Education Program
The U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, recently awarded a grant to Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) to launch the Feed the Future SAWBO Responsive-Adaptive-Participatory Information Dissemination Scaling Program, or SAWBO RAPID, an educational intervention program to disseminate crucial information related to COVID-19’s secondary economic impacts, including disruption to trade, supply chains and markets.
The project is led by Barry Pittendrigh, Julia Bello-Bravo, and John Medendorp, three Michigan State University researchers with significant international development experience.
SAWBO RAPID will ensure that important COVID-19 information will be delivered across borders, cultures, and literacy levels by developing educational animations in local languages and using virtual dissemination platforms to reach remote and marginalized communities.
A recent study conducted by Bello-Bravo showed that Mozambique farmers who viewed an animation on using jerrycans for safe, long-term grain storage resulted in a 97 percent retention rate and an 89 percent adoption rate of the storage solution.
“Our videos can be adapted to a diversity of cultural scenarios, allowing women, men, and a wide range of age groups to view them and learn proper techniques,” says Bello-Bravo. “In this study we observed women taking a very active role in learning and sharing the information they gained from the animations.
“Besides the high retention rate of 97 percent, 92 percent of survey participants reported telling an average of eight other farmers about the technique, and 55 percent personally demonstrated the technique to an average of six others. SAWBO RAPID activities will build upon the success of this system.”
Efforts like SAWBO RAPID are especially important during the current pandemic, according to the researchers.
“SAWBO RAPID is about crisis intervention,” says Pittendrigh. “The program operates 100 percent in virtual space and has had almost a decade of experience creating educational content to respond to crisis situations. Content is created and distributed through online networks — all achieved while actors across this educational pathway maintain social distancing.”
Support for Small Businesses
Brighton-based Lake Trust Credit Union recently announced the Great Lakes Giveback program to support Michigan small businesses during this time of economic turmoil.
Small businesses throughout Michigan are eligible to apply, with preference given to those with 25 employees or fewer. Structured as a crowdfunding campaign, Lake Trust will select 75 small businesses to participate. Businesses will be encouraged to engage customers, supporters, and the community at large to raise donations through the Great Lakes Giveback campaign and “make waves for small businesses across Michigan” beginning June 15.
Lake Trust will distribute a total of $75,000 to participants, matching crowdfunded totals up to $1,000 per business. Matching funds will be granted through July 31.
“We know many small business owners have endured significant financial hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” says David Snodgrass, CEO of Lake Trust. “Lake Trust is focused on being an engine of economic wellbeing and that includes promoting the financial health and stability of the communities we serve. Small businesses are central to Michigan’s economy, and the Great Lakes Giveback offers a platform to provide direct support to small enterprises and engage their customers, neighbors and fans.”
Applications and eligibility requirements are available here.
Emergency Food Distribution
Lighthouse, a Pontiac-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty, is expanding its COVID-19 emergency food distribution efforts across Oakland County to meet the increasing need for food caused by the global pandemic.
This week through the end of August, 2,000 food boxes filled with 20 pounds of perishable items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will be distributed o 1,000 households from St. David’s Episcopal Church (16200 W. 12 Mile Rd. in Southfield) on Thursdays between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. starting June 4, and Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church (6805 Bluegrass Drive in Clarkston) on Wednesdays between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. starting tomorrow.
This effort will increase Lighthouse’s total food distribution to 3,400 households a week representing nearly 10,000 individuals. The fresh produce is part of the USDA’s Farmers to Families program and is being provided by a network of more than 1,000 growers to help keep the food supply chain intact and prevent fresh, perishable food from going to waste.
Families and individuals in need can call 248-920-6000 and press the number 2 to sign up for the Wednesday or Thursday food distribution, or simply show up.
Birmingham-based Impact 100 of Metro Detroit, a group of Oakland County women who do collective giving, will provide grants totaling $200,000 to two nonprofits that are headquartered in and serve Wayne, Oakland, and/or Macomb County.
The 200 members of Impact 100, who each donate $1,000 toward two collective grants of $100,000, will meet virtually Friday to select this year’s recipients. All attendees must register individually here.
This year’s candidates are:
- Deaf Professional Arts Network, which provides workforce development and creative expression opportunities for the deaf community.
- Dutton Farms, which offers employment opportunities to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that harness their talents.
- The Lawn Academy, which offers homework assistance, financial literacy, principles of entrepreneurship and a learning lab to students on the east side of Detroit.
- Micah 6 Community, which offers food access in their Pontiac neighborhood through a community garden.