COVID-19 Update: HUD Outlines Relief Distribution, State Opens Small Business Loan Applications, GM Readies Kokomo for Ventilator Production, 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.
Bridge map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 2

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.

Federal Government – HUD
As soon as the CARES Act was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development immediately started allocating $3.064 billion to help America’s low-income families and most vulnerable citizens. These funds will be awarded quickly by using existing grant formulas. They also will be accompanied by new guidance that cuts red tape so grantees can quickly help their communities.

The $3.064 billion is being made available through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant, Emergency Solutions Grant, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS programs.

The $2 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program will be allocated to:

  • Help states, communities, and nonprofits construct medical facilities for testing and treatment.
  • Acquire a motel or hotel building to expand capacity of hospitals to accommodate isolation of patients during recovery.
  • Replace HVAC systems to temporarily transform commercial buildings or closed school buildings into clinics or treatment centers.
  • Support businesses manufacturing medical supplies.
  • Construct a group living facility to centralize patients undergoing treatment.
  • Carry out job training of health care workers and technicians who are available to treat disease within a community.

Another $1 billion from the Emergency Solutions Grants program will go toward:

  • Building more emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families.
  • Operating emergency shelters by providing maintenance, rent, repair, security, fuel, equipment, insurance, utilities, food, furnishings, and supplies necessary for the operation.
  • Providing hotel/motel vouchers for homeless families or individuals.
  • Providing essential services to people experiencing homelessness including childcare, education services, outreach, employment assistance, outpatient
  • health services, legal services, mental health services, substance abuse treatment services, and transportation.
  • Preventing individuals from becoming homeless and rapidly rehouse homeless individuals.

Still another $63.7 million is provided to help American’s with compromised immune systems by:

  • Increasing the level of safe, stable housing for persons living with HIV/AIDS and their household members, by providing rental and utility assistance and other short-term lodging assistance to address isolation and self-quarantine needs.
  • Ensuring access to HIV medical care and treatment, chemical dependency treatment, and mental health treatment.
  • Providing persons with compromised immune systems with nutritional services and assistance with daily living.
  • Assisting in job training and placement assistance.

Additional funds will follow, HUD says. The CARES Act allows HUD to broaden the reach of its existing grant programs for the remaining $9.136 billion in relief funding to meet the country’s unique needs during this time. To do this, new grant formulas must be written. HUD began writing new formulas immediately and will continue to work quickly to address communities’ needs and ensure these funds go to people and do not get delayed by bureaucratic red tape.

State Government – Small Business Support
The state of Michigan announced today that businesses across the state now are able to apply for $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To assist small businesses in their efforts to secure relief, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Association of CPAs, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and the Michigan SBDC are joining forces with the state in launching a new website – – to provide businesses with key resources to assist with the PPP application and loan process and ensure the greatest amount of federal funding is able to be used by small businesses for economic relief efforts throughout the state.

The website includes key eligibility information, videos, instructions to help with the application process, information on authorized SBA lenders, and more.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the Paycheck Protection Program is a lifeline,” says Brian Calley president of the SBAM. “These loans, much of which may be forgivable, are just what we need to get Michigan’s economy rolling as long as businesses apply.”

Michigan small businesses (per SBA size standards) – including hospitality and food industry businesses and sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons – are eligible to apply for loans to help ensure employees continue receiving paychecks. The Paycheck Protection Program loans are designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll and may be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

“The Paycheck Protection Program will provide critical capital for businesses facing a temporary loss of revenue as a result of coronavirus and protect the livelihoods for workers across the state that these businesses provide,” says Mark Burton, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “While we are looking at every resource possible to support our small businesses and workforce in the face of the significant challenges they are facing, we know that federal loans, like the Paycheck Protection Program, will be paramount to economic recovery efforts in the state.”

The Paycheck Protection Program loans will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis with funding caps in place, so the state is encouraging Michigan small businesses to apply early – with the application period for small businesses opening today, April 3 and for independent contractors and sole proprietors on April 10 – and to utilize the Michigan Paycheck Protection Program website to make the process as streamlined and as simple as possible.

State Government – Emergency Order
To help control the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order on April 2 setting a civil penalty of up to $1,000 and a process for referral to licensing agencies for violations of Executive Orders 2020-11, 2020-20 and 2020-21. Criminal penalties for violation will remain an option for prosecutors.

“A person can have coronavirus without knowing it,” Gordon says. “They can spread the disease to others who can spread it to others. The only way to stop the spread is social distancing. A civil penalty and potential licensing actions send a strong message to Michiganders that social distancing is essential to saving lives.”

The Emergency Order requires that every person must comply with the procedures and restrictions outlined in these Executive Orders.

  • Executive Order 2020-11 temporarily prohibits large assemblages and events and temporarily closes schools.
  • Executive Order 2020-20 places temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation.
  • Executive Order 2020-21 temporarily restricts gatherings and travel and prohibits in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life.

“There is not a vaccine or a recognized treatment for COVID-19 and our healthcare system is being severely taxed by this pandemic,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We need people to heed the Stay Home, Stay Safe order as well as other orders issued by the governor to protect the health and safety of all Michiganders.”

In addition to civil penalties, entities regulated by a licensing agency will be referred to relevant licensing agencies for additional enforcement action as determined by that agency. Places of religious worship, when used for religious worship, are exempt from the Emergency Rules.

For more information on the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, visit here.

General Motors Co. is actively training employees at the company’s Kokomo, Ind. plant in the extensive screening, cleaning and other CDC-recommended procedures that will be in place when volume production of Ventec Life Systems’ critical care ventilator begins in less than two weeks. Among the employees is UAW Local 292 member Debbie Hollis of Kokomo.

“I have family all across the country, so (COVID-19) has impacted everybody that I know and love,” Hollis says. “I’m grateful that I get a chance to do my part and be a part of something … we are modern-day Rosie the Riveters.”

Hollis and the production team, which will grow to more than 1,000 men and women, including people who already work for GM and new hires from the Kokomo area, also are gaining hands-on exposure to Ventec’s ventilator.

“Every ventilator we build can help save lives, and GM’s global supply base and manufacturing teams, the UAW, and the Kokomo community are working with passion and unwavering commitment to get the job done,” says Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of global manufacturing. “People have moved mountains to help increase production of Ventec’s critical care ventilator and we are just weeks away from delivering these lifesaving devices. I have never seen anything like it in my career.”

To help protect people working at the Kokomo plant, extensive screening, cleaning, and other CDC-recommended procedures will be in place.

Everyone arriving for work will be required to sanitize their hands immediately upon arrival and have their temperature checked with a non-contact thermometer before entering the job site.

Everyone will work their shift wearing medical-grade protective masks, including masks produced at GM’s Warren facility.

There will be a 30-minute interval between shifts to allow employees to clean their workstations when they arrive and again before they leave.

There will be signage throughout the facility reminding team members to practice social distancing.

Each workstation will be manned by one person, and each workstation will be spaced at least six feet apart.

Cleaning crews will clean and sanitize common touch surfaces such as door handles, as well as common areas, at least three times per shift.

Initial production will begin with one shift, with second and third shifts added soon thereafter.

Each shift will enter and exit through a different door to minimize social contact.

“The men and women building these ventilators raised their hands to help save the lives of people suffering from COVID-19,” says Dr. Jeffery E. Hess, GM’s corporate medical director. “We will create a safe workplace using CDC guidelines and scientific data.”

Medical Supplies
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in Ann Arbor Thursday announced a new partnership with the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the critical shortage of medical equipment and supplies.

Tapping into its network of American manufacturers, and working alongside several agencies to assist FEMA’s efforts, NCMS is securing feedback from advanced manufacturing companies about capability, capacity, time frames, and other data that will be provided to the DOD and FEMA. This information is crucial in understanding the current and future supply base while expediting connectivity and communications.

As the Federal Government continues to take aggressive steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, NCMS is encouraging its members and broader manufacturing partners to rally together during this national crisis. Some of the prioritized needs are:

  • Ventilators
  • N95 face masks
  • Level 4 gowns
  • Face shields
  • Personal protective equipment sterilization technologies
  • Respirators

“With the engagement of our diverse network, NCMS will rapidly identify innovations and accelerate these solutions into the hands of those who need them most,” says Lisa Strama, president and CEO of NCMS. “It is imperative that we all bring our resources forward to help the COVID-19 fight.”

For more information and to get involved, visit here.

Medical Relief
Eight Lawrence Technological University nursing students are on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, even before their graduation.

The students are working as patient care technicians at Ascension hospitals in Southfield and Warren, at Trinity Health’s St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor, a private rehab and extended care facility, and at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak. All are exposed to COVID-19 patients.

“They are feeling very needed at this time,” says M. Therese Jamison, director of LTU’s nursing program. “They are showing great perseverance, great resilience. I think they are seeing way more than they ever thought they would see this early in their careers. But they’re staying as positive as they can. They are experiencing something that they hopefully will never experience again in their lifetimes, and they have not even graduated yet.”

The students’ duties include bathing patients, helping them get up and around for treatments, obtaining vital signs and checking their blood sugar. The students have been fully protected with appropriate equipment on the job, Jamison says.

In addition, LTU nursing faculty still work in nursing one day a week in hospital settings.

On Thursday, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-35 which orders all K-12 school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year — unless restrictions are lifted — and ensures continuing of learning by setting guidelines for remote learning. District facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distancing.
The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are currently developing a Continuity of Learning Plan template application for schools to utilize in order to create their localized plan. The application will be made available today (April 3). District plans will need to detail how districts will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and how schools will manage and monitor their progress. It will also provide information on how parents and guardians can learn more about the local plan. Each district must have its plan approved by their regional intermediate school district before being implemented. Public school academies must have their plans approved by their authorizer. Districts can also partner with one another to create joint plans.
Every district’s plan will be different and will reflect what’s best and feasible for their community. A plan can include learning by any number of modes of instruction delivery, including a hybrid approach. However they are designed, districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable, and accessible for students and families.
If the plan relies on some online instruction, the district should ensure every student who needs it has access to an appropriate device with an ability to connect to the internet. Students and families will not be penalized if they are unable to participate in their alternate learning plan. No timeline was given to complete the plan at a time when many other states have already launched similar efforts.

Education Support
Nikolai P. Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, in an open letter released on April 2, is seeking donations, tablet computers, and AirCards for use by student families. In his letter, Vitti said: “Our district staff has been working hard since school was closed to develop a new learning framework that will offer learning opportunities for PreK-12 students in literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. This will include lessons for physical education and art as well. Learning will build from the curriculum our students are currently using with linked videos introducing learning concepts and assignments. All of our school level staff will have specific roles and responsibilities to engage students and families during the closure through phone calls and the virtual platform of “Teams.” Our new learning platform will be released April 14. We will focus on students’ learning and their social emotional needs during these difficult times as well. All of the assignments will be printed as well to address the city’s digital divide. We are actively working with the business community to implement a strategy to provide all DPSCD families with a tablet and internet access. Our goal is to execute this commitment by early/late May. All assignments will be enrichment based.” For anyone that can donate funds, tablets, or AirCards (wireless modem that connects mobile devices to the internet through cellular networks), message Alycia Meriweather at

Food Programs
The Detroit Pistons, Wayne County, and corporate partners Lineage Logistics, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Flagstar Foundation, and AAA The Auto Club Group announced Thursday a $375,000 grant to Forgotten Harvest providing immediate support to the nonprofit’s food recovery and distribution efforts in response to COVID-19.

“The community needs everyone to come together now more than ever,” says Tom Gores, owner of the Pistons. “I’m proud to see our partners joining forces to help those who need it most. There is so much more that needs to be done.”

The team has rallied partners in collaboration with Wayne County to secure funding resources that will aid Forgotten Harvest in covering additional costs for food acquisition, supplies, storage, and delivery in response to the current crisis. With children no longer in school and businesses closing as the region practices social distancing, Forgotten Harvest estimates that the number of families it services has increased 45 percent since the crisis began and food acquisition and disbursement needs have doubled.

Donations of support can be placed by visiting here.

Lighthouse, a Pontiac-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty, Oakland University, and Pontiac Community Foundation announced today they have joined forces in a collaborative effort with several other agencies to expand emergency food distribution to Oakland County residents in need during the COVID-19 crisis, fueled by a new $300,000 grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Since the outbreak began, Lighthouse and its partners have assisted more than 3,000 individuals – including more than 1,424 children – as they work round-the-clock to meet the soaring demand for assistance.

The emergency food packaging and storage operation was moved to Oakland Center on the Oakland University campus in Rochester to meet the increasing need and to ensure the continued health and safety of volunteers. Lighthouse recently purchased 13,000 pounds of food to distribute and quickly needed to replenish those supplies. The most recent purchase of 27,000 pounds of food from Meijer on April 1 filled two Gardner-White trucks. Lighthouse will receive $10,000 in additional donated food from Meijer.

To request assistance or volunteer, visit here or call Lighthouse at 248-920-6000 (press the number 2).

For those who can safely leave their homes to pick up food, Lighthouse continues to distribute food, household items and other basics from the following sites:

  • Lighthouse in Pontiac: 46156 Woodward Ave., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Lighthouse in Clarkston: 5850 Dixie Hwy., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Lighthouse St. David’s Food Pantry: 16200 W. 12 Mile, Southfield, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Detroit’s Motown Museum is releasing a stream of new social content to allow fans to engage and interact with the museum during its temporary closure due to shelter in place measures.

“Even in the most challenging moments, there is room for creativity and connectivity,” says Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum. “We hope these programs bring joy, inspiration and fill our fans with a little bit of Motown magic as we navigate this time together. With nostalgia for the past and optimism for a brighter future, we are hopeful these virtual engagements will help us remain connected as we eagerly await the day we can welcome our guests back.”

Upcoming virtual content highlights include:

  • Motown DJ Dance Party, Friday, April 3 at 8 p.m. live on Motown Museum’s Instagram channel (@motownmuseum).
  • Hitsville Next Educational Content, a diverse virtual lineup of K-12 educational programming on the museum’s Facebook page throughout April.
  • Motown Mic: At Home, April 11-18, new and prerecorded performances premiered live for Motown Museum Facebook fans.
  • Hitsville Honors Celebration, Friday, April 10, clips from last fall’s Motown Museum 60th anniversary weekend event on Motown Museum’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and IGTV channel.

The Henry Ford in Dearborn offers innovation learning to inspire one’s creative genius and can-do spirit. Experts guide viewers through a daily series of lessons, activities, and content built around The Henry Ford’s collection themes of:

  • Mobility
  • Design and Making
  • Social Transformation
  • Agriculture and the Environment
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Power and Energy

The programming can be accessed here, or look for the lineup of programs on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Mondays: STEAM Stories, pre-K-grade 2, 10 a.m. EST (30 min.)

  • Engage your little ones with specially themed storytelling and hands-on activities featuring materials that are easily found in the house.

Tuesdays: Innovation Nation Takeover, all ages, all day

  • Go all in on some of our favorite moments from The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca. Get your fix throughout the day by tuning in to segments curated by our experts and featuring bonus content.

Wednesdays: Innovation Journeys Live, grades 3-8, 1 p.m. EST (30 min.)

  • Learn about the actions and habits of innovators through a story from our collections that will help you to understand and apply the concepts to real-world situations. Students will be encouraged to build their own innovation journey and share with others.

Thursdays: Virtual Visit, all ages, 4 p.m. EST

  • Our curators are taking over Twitter! Join us every Thursday for a virtual visit and live Q&A session with one of our experts. Arrive with questions, expect the occasional scavenger hunt — and leave with fresh knowledge about each of our six core collections themes.

Fridays: Kid Inventors, grades 3-12, 12 p.m. EST (30 min.) – THIS FRIDAY: Arianna Anderson, 8th grader from Connecticut who created “Epic Masks”

  • Get an inside look at what inventors from Invention Convention Worldwide are doing throughout the world to solve today’s problems.

Weekends: The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation

  • Watch new episodes of Emmy® Award-winning The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on CBS (check local listings), or download episodes from six seasons anytime on

During this time when families have to stay safely in their homes, Somerset Collection is bringing its beloved Hester Fairweather, the first bunny of spring, onto social media to continue delighting thousands of children across metro Detroit.  Children are invited to a springtime sing-along-do-along concert with Janet Mare & m’Archibald from the Children’s Theatre of Michigan and special guest Hester Fairweather!

Children of all ages are invited to tune in to the Somerset Collection’s Facebook page (@thesomersetcollection) Saturday, April 4 at 10 a.m. for the premiere of the Springshow-From-Home-Concert.  Somerset Collection encourages viewers to take photos of their kids dancing with the bunny. When Somerset Collection reopens, guests who show their photo with the bunny to the concierge desk will receive a $10 gift card to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Sweet Factory or Häagen-Dazs.

Detroit Chinese Business Association is conducting webinars on April 7 and April 8 addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business.

The first, “What Does a Pandemic Mean for Your Business and for You,” will take place April 7 at 1:30 p.m. and will bringing together experts offering guidance to help you through this time of uncertainty. Visit here for more information and to participate.

The second, “A Digital Battle with COVID-19 – Technology Tips to Work Better from Home,” will take place April 8 at 1:30 p.m. and cover best practices for remote office and collaborative work. Visit here for more information and to participate.