COVID-19 Update: Beaumont CEO Calls on State to Boost Hospital Patient Counts, Employers Reduce Payrolls, Medical Supply Report, 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.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 5

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.

Medical Data
John Fox, president and CEO of Beaumont in Southfield, the state’s largest hospital system, on Sunday called on state leaders to improve the response rate of vital COVID-19 data among all hospitals across Michigan. The lack of real time data has caused Beaumont patients to wait in ER rooms and in their cars for hours before they learn about other hospitals with more available resources, which puts them in increased danger, he said. On March 24, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an order requiring hospitals to submit daily reports to the state that include information about bed and ventilator capacity, patient census, and supplies, information on staffing shortages, and areas the facility had dedicated to COVID-19 patients. In response to Fox’s request, Lynn Sutfin said late Sunday that the state is working to improve the response rate into the system and plans to include improved additional information in the coming days.

Medical Supplies
The White House reported on Friday that the federal government provided additional critical resources and support to Michigan to respond to and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Officials say partnerships with state and local leaders, and the private sector, are an integral part of a whole-of-America approach to responding to the global pandemic. On March 27, President declared that a major disaster exists in Michigan and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing. The President’s action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas of Michigan. Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance. FEMA is coordinating with the state of Michigan to confirm the delivery date and destination of a 250-bed Federal Medical Station (at TCF Center in downtown Detroit) that is ready to be shipped from the Strategic National Stockpile. FEMA Region 5 (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) also is coordinating execution with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of a $20 million Mission Assignment for design and buildout of Alternate Care Facilities.

As of April 2, the federal government has provided the following medical supplies to Michigan:

  • N-95 Masks – 311,000
  • Surgical Masks – 740,000
  • Face Shields – 148,600
  • Surgical Gowns – 121,700
  • Coveralls – 3,800
  • Gloves – 618,900
  • Ventilators – 400
  • Medical Station Boots – 250

In related news, Detroit-based LIFT and Tennessee-based IACMI – The Composites Institute, national manufacturing innovation institutes, donated their personal protective equipment to the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Their donation included 300 safety glasses that fit over prescription glasses, 300 safety glasses that do not fit over prescription glasses, 1,400 nitrile gloves, and 60 lab coats.

LIFT is also 3-D printing N95 masks and has connected members of its manufacturing ecosystem to the government and other manufacturers.

“This material will go a long way in keeping our staff safe as we fight this virus here in southwest Detroit,” says Dr. Felix Valbuena, CEO of the center. “We appreciate both LIFT and IACMI and everything they and their networks are doing to keep our community safe and healthy.”

The two institutions operate an applied research and development and educational facility in Corktown. They are part of the larger Manufacturing USA network.

“We are all in this fight together,” says Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT. “Our national ecosystem of manufacturers is doing everything it can to develop everything from ventilators to masks in order to support the medical community. We wanted to make sure we were doing our part to support them locally.”

LIFT is a Department of Defense partner, and IACMI is a Department of Energy partner.

In other news, Bioengineers at Southfield-based Beaumont Health have created a process to disinfect used N95 masks. The two-step process can extend usage so masks can be worn two or three times.

“This is a major development which will help us continue to protect our staff during this pandemic,” says Carolyn Wilson, COO of Beaumont Health. “Our engineers stepped up, adapting technology to create this process. With the severe national shortage of masks, this will allow us to protect our staff, conserve resources, and reduce medical waste.”

The disinfection process includes an ultraviolet light machine and eight walls surrounding it. The masks are affixed to cables on the frontside of the walls. The back side of each wall is reflective foil.
“We’ve adopted a two-step process based on work from the University of Nebraska and in collaboration with University of Michigan,” says Dr. Sam Flanders, chief quality officer of Beaumont Health. “A powerful ultraviolet light exposes all surfaces of the mask for 8 minutes. UV light has been proven to kill the COVID germ, along with other microorganisms. Next, the masks are heated to 150-160 degrees for one hour. This isn’t the first time that health systems have done this in pandemic situations. Reprocessing of N95 masks has been scientifically studied and is safe and effective.”

Employees and physicians assigned N95 masks will be asked to return them at the end of their shifts. Those that are visibly soiled, contaminated, or wet will be discarded because they are unable to be disinfected.

Labor
The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday employers reduced payrolls by 701,000 jobs in March, the largest monthly decline since 2009, due in large part to the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent. Much of the data was collected in the first half of March. Over the last two weeks, nearly 10 million applications were made for unemployment benefits. In related news, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the shutdown of nonessential businesses by states have resulted in a 29-percent drop in U.S. daily output.

Reporting COVID-19 Deaths Executive Order
On Saturday, Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, issued an emergency order designed to get death information to public health officials sooner so they can better provide health services and enforce health laws. Physicians and funeral homes are now required to report deaths more quickly in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The order was effective immediately.

“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” Gordon says. “To inform sound decision-making and protect Michiganders, public health officials need accurate information about COVID-19 deaths as quickly as possible. I appreciate the work of our funeral home directors and physicians right now, and I am grateful to partner with them in taking quick action during this pandemic.”

The order requires physicians who know or suspect that a patient’s death resulted from COVID-19 to try to promptly notify the funeral director. The funeral director is then required to initiate the death record and submit to the attending physician within 24 hours of becoming aware of the physician’s knowledge or suspicion. The funeral director must then file the death record with the local registrar of the district where the death occurred within 48 hours. Funeral directors also must report all deaths using Michigan’s Electronic Death Records System.

Physicians who receive a death record for medical certification where the death resulted or is suspected to have resulted from COVID-19 must attempt to certify the death record within 24 hours of receipt.

The department strongly encourages physicians, especially medical examiners and hospitalists, to use the Electronic Death Records System to certify death records.

Prompt reporting of COVID-19 deaths allows public health officials to more accurately understand the impact of the disease in the community and informs plans for further public health measures.

As of April 5 at 10 a.m., Michigan had a recorded 15,718 cases of COVID-19 with 617 deaths.

The emergency order is being issued under MCL 333.2253, which provides for the department director to issue orders to control an epidemic.

Small Business Support
Citizens Bank in Southfield today announced community organizations and small businesses in Michigan will receive $440,000 in funding as part of a previously announced initiative through which Citizens Bank will direct more than $5 million to support relief and recovery across communities it serves, including $365,000 that will go directly to small businesses across the state.

“We believe our approach strikes a strong balance between rapid aid to community partners addressing immediate needs and longer term support for small business recovery,” says Rick Hampson, Michigan state president, Citizens Bank. “Our small business customers are a vital engine of the Michigan economy so it is critical that we both give them an immediate leg up and bolster their long term viability.”

Citizens Bank and the Citizens Charitable Foundation will direct $440,000 in Michigan as follows:

  • $200,000 between the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council for grants to small businesses in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties and Eastern Market Partnership for grants to small food-based businesses in the Eastern Market district.
  • $165,000 in direct grants to Citizens Bank small business customers in Michigan and to help them continue operating and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The program will provide $15,000 grants to 11 of the bank’s small business customers.  Details of the award program can be found at Citizensbank.com/smallbusinessrecovery.
  • $75,000 to the COVID-19 Response Fund via the United Way of Southeastern Michigan to rapidly deploy resources to community based organizations offering emergency relief to families and individuals in need.

In addition to providing new funding, Citizens removed programmatic restrictions on 2020 funding to non-profit partners to allow support to be diverted to the areas of greatest need.

Education
Winning Futures, a nonprofit educational organization in Warren that empowers high school students to succeed, has released a series of simple and fun life skills development activities that parents and guardians can do with their students at home while schools are closed and COVID-19 social distancing strategies are in place.

The activities help students develop important knowledge and skills to be successful. Topics include effective communication, maintaining a positive attitude, career exploration, vision planning, and goal setting. Now through the end of April, two new activities will be released each week. All activities are free and available online at WinningFutures.org/Activities/At-Home.

The first two at-home activities were released last week. The Positive Attitude Rap is a lyrical activity that is based on the importance of having a positive attitude in achieving success. Using a list of positive attitude and leadership traits, students compose a poem or rap, then perform their masterpiece. Rate How You Communicate is an interactive drawing activity that helps students improve their listening and direction giving and following skills. Students take turns drawing specific geometric patterns based only on verbal directions from the activity leader, then reflect on how their communication skills affected the accuracy and quality of their drawing.

Hand Sanitizer
Rochester Hills-based Plymouth Technology Inc. and Grand Rapids-based Haviland Enterprises have partnered to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizer. Plymouth Technology supplies specialty chemicals and application services to Midwest manufacturing plants, including ethanol manufacturers. Haviland is a chemical distribution, manufacturing, and packaging company based in Grand Rapids.

Haviland had a small-scale hand sanitizer operation underway as of March 27, but it ran out of alcohol for the product formula.

The Food and Drug Administration has relaxed its regulations to allow the use of denatured ethanol in hand sanitizer production.

The manufacturing campaign is expected to produce more than 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, and the product will be sold in 5- and 55-gallon containers.

Haviland will deliver large orders, and both companies will offer pick-up locations. Plymouth Technology is located at 2700 Bond St., and Haviland is located at 421 Ann St. NW in Grand Rapids. The sanitizer is expected to be available beginning this week.

For eastern Michigan donation requests, contact Handsanitizer@ptiwater.com. For all other donation requests, contact Handsanitzier@havilandusa.com. For all sales inquiries, contact danb@havilandusa.com.

Business Webinar
The Michigan Venture Capital Association will host an online panel on Thursday that will provide information about how businesses can be better prepared and sustain themselves during COVID-19.

Dakota Bruner, director of business development for GDI Infotech; Douglas LaLone, partner and patent attorney for Fishman Stewart PLLC; and James Martin, managing director of Cendrowski Corporate Advisors will present. Ara Topouzian, executive director the association, will moderate.

The webinar is free, and no registration is required. It will take place from 10-10:30 a.m. The Zoom link is here, or those interested can call in at (312) 626-6799.

Detroit Grand Prix
Detroit Grand Prix organizers today announced the 2020 Grand Prix, originally scheduled for May 29-31 at Belle Isle Park, has been canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The race is scheduled to return next year from June 4-6, 2021.

Grand Prix ticketholders will be contacted in the near future regarding their 2020 ticket purchases.

Cannabis
New Standard, a cannabis company, opened its first provisioning center on April 3 in Hazel Park, located at Ten Mile and John R roads (24906 John R). The center is open for medical use and offers products that include cannabis flower, pre-rolls, edibles, cartridges, concentrates, and accessories. New Standard says it will donate a portion of all proceeds during the current global health crisis to help local retailers forced to close. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis and current government protocols, New Standard offers curbside pick-up. New Standard also intends to begin delivery service to all eligible patients within the next few weeks. The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It joins the Breeze Provisioning Center that opened in February in Hazel Park (24517 John R).

Entertainment
Ford Motor Co. has released a kids activity book. To access it, click here.

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