COVID-19 Update: MSU Researcher Predicts 47% Less Halloween Activity, Indy Lights Series Joins Fray at 2021 Detroit Grand Prix, 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 Oct. 22

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.

MSU Researcher Predicts 47% Less Halloween Activity Due to COVID-19
A researcher at Michigan State University in East Lansing predicts that 47 percent of households are not likely to participate in any Halloween activity due to COVID-19.

The analysis was done by Trey Malone, an assistant professor in the MSU Michigan Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, in partnership with Brandon R. McFadden, assistant professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware.

Among the findings include:

  • Households handing out of candy may decrease by half.
  • Candy sales will likely decrease as 42 percent of households plan to consume less candy this year.
  • Approximately 41 percent for households with children under the age of 14 will refrain from trick or treating.

“As we move into the holiday season, our survey suggests that COVID-19 will generate a chilling effect on the fun social activities we all traditionally enjoy during this time,” says Malone, whose work was published in Choices, a publication of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

For more information and a graphic representation of the data, visit here.

Indy Lights Series Joins Fray at 2021 Detroit Grand Prix
The Indy Lights racing series, absent from the street course on Belle Isle since 2012, will return to the Detroit Grand Prix for a pair of races June 12-13, 2021.

The series, which is the top level of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires driver development system, previously participated in 13 Detroit race weekends, beginning in 1989.

“We’re excited to welcome Indy Lights back to Belle Isle in 2021,” says Michael Montri, president of the Detroit Grand Prix. “Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires has helped produce some of the top drivers in IndyCar history and the series has a great tradition of racing in Detroit. Belle Isle hasn’t hosted an Indy Lights race in what will be nine years so we’re looking forward to the return of the series and its teams next summer and it will be a great opportunity for our fans to see some of the rising stars of IndyCar racing.”

Competing on both the downtown Detroit street circuit, as well as on Belle Isle, Indy Lights has produced some memorable racing moments at the Detroit Grand Prix, including Motor City wins from such established IndyCar veterans as Adrian Fernandez (1992), Tony Kanaan (1996 and 1997), and Grosse Pointe’s Robbie Buhl (1995). Gustavo Yacaman won the last Detroit Grand Prix Indy Lights race in 2012.

With a car design and features similar to the current Indy car, the Indy Lights equipment package provides the training and skills young drivers need to take the next step in their development.  Equipped with Cooper tires, each car features a Dallara chassis and a 450-horsepower AER engine, compared to the 700-horsepower engines in the current Indy car configuration. In 2021, the Indy Lights cars also will race with a Dallara-designed and installed Titanium Halo around the driver for increased safety.

Michigan Chamber Applauds Bi-partisan COVID-19 Business Immunity Bills
The Michigan Chamber-backed legislation that specifies businesses who are following COVID-19 safety protocols be protected from COVID-19 related lawsuits was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Senate and House approved the five bills last week after days of intense bipartisan negotiations. The main bill, House Bill 6030, would grant employers, individuals, nonprofits, child care and academic facilities and the medical community immunity from personal injury lawsuits and other tort actions if the person or entity is in compliance with federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders and agency orders related to COVID-19 in effect at the time of the conduct or risk that allegedly caused harm.

Two other bills in the package, House Bills 6031 and 6101, would make similar changes to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“Across our state, businesses, nonprofits, childcare, academic facilities, and the medical community have invested resources, time, and energy in complying with public health requirements and operating in a safe manner,” says Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy and member engagement for the Michigan Chamber. “This legislation is good news for businesses who have made public safety a priority and allows them to proceed with confidence that they will not be the target of an unwarranted lawsuit brought by personal injury lawyers seeking to capitalize on the pandemic.

“This legislation is a great example of what happens when all sides come together to resolve a controversial issue,” Block continues.

Ford Opens Bronco Build-and-price Configurator
The Bronco brand of Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn has opened its Bronco build-and-price configurator, enabling customers for the first time the opportunity to visualize the color and material choices that reinforce the nature of the Built Wild brand.

“The color and material offerings of the all-new Bronco and Bronco Sport are genuine and trusted, and establish a visceral connection between nature and the authenticity of this new family of rugged SUVs,” says Missy Coolsaet, color and materials designer for Bronco. “They motivate our customers to return to the wilderness and challenge themselves – and Bronco takes them there in a carefree, spontaneous way.”

Launching officially at midnight tonight, the 2021 Bronco two-door and four-door build-and-price configurator will enable more than 190,000 reservation holders and Bronco fans to visualize the nature- and heritage-inspired colors and adventure-enabling options across the seven trim series.

To configure a Bronco, visit here.

In Related News: Ford Motor Co.’s Bronco and Filson – two American brands with histories delivering in the outdoors – have joined forces to celebrate wildland firefighters and raise funds to help maintain and preserve America’s natural resources and National Forests.

“Ford and Filson share a unique history of helping protect our nation’s wildfire crews for more than a century and helping them access rugged areas of forests,” says Dave Rivers, marketing manager for Bronco at Ford. “We’re combining those strengths to support those who protect our natural resources as well as helping preserve our nation’s forests for future generations.”

The two companies will collaborate to raise funds in support of the National Forest Foundation’s reforestation programs and promote fire prevention awareness through limited-edition Bronco + Filson outdoor gear at and via a custom Bronco Wildland Fire Rig concept vehicle inspired by vintage U.S. Forest Service Broncos and Filson’s iconic materials.

The Fire Rig concept serves as a model of future firefighting rigs based on the all-new Bronco four-door.

The Bronco Wild Fund, which launched earlier this week, also will donate two Bronco four-door SUVs modeled after the Wildland Fire Rig concept to support forest firefighting crews who protect communities and defend vital natural resources.

Based on an all-new Bronco Badlands four-door SUV with available Sasquatch Package, the Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept blends off-road capability and Filson materials to pay tribute to classic Bronco SUVs and the outdoor gear of the U.S. Forest Service.

“The Filson and Bronco collaboration was a natural fit, given the deep histories both brands have with the U.S. Forest Service dating back to the midcentury, when crews relied on the Filson Cruiser jackets and first-generation Broncos to reach remote terrain and protect them in harsh conditions,” says Doug Thielen, director of marketing at Filson. “Our resilient materials and innovative product designs are the perfect complement for the rugged Bronco SUV, and honor wildland firefighters who risk it all to protect our forests and natural resources.”

Featuring iconic Forest Service Green paint similar to the first-generation U.S. Forest Service Bronco, the concept includes a full fire skid with water tank in back and interior design elements made from Filson fabrics and accessories.

A modular steel bumper from Ford Performance is installed with a WARN Zeon 10s winch, while a heavy-duty custom fabricated roof rack with a RIGID LED light bar is mounted to the Bronco SUV accessory-ready points on the side mirror arms and rear J-plate.

It carries firefighting equipment including a Pulaski, shovel, water tanks, and axes, and is strong enough to double as a firefighter lookout. The Kimtek FIRELITE Fire/Rescue Transport skid, with Hannay Reels fire hose reel, Davey high-pressure water pump and 50-gallon water tank, is mounted in back, while a STIHL chainsaw, two hard hats, a high lift jack and Sure Seal drip torch are latched to the skid.

Fireproof ripstop nylon similar to that on Filson backpacks and briefcases is used for the bimini-style top and rear cargo area divider. The top can be opened, rolled back, and secured by Filson bridle leather straps. Other materials providing long-term durability from the elements include Cerakote ceramic coating on the wheels, custom fabricated roof rack and grille, as well as inside for the center console and instrument panel trim.

The steering wheel features a Bronco horse logo plated in Filson brass, while an embroidered Filson logo is mounted to the interior top and a similar logo is applied to the center console trim tag.

IHA and Infinity Primary Care Finalize Integration
IHA, a multispecialty medical group in Ann Arbor, and Infinity Primary Care have finalized terms for the integration of Primary Care Internal Medicine and the Center for Family Care into IHA.

“Our goal in integrating these practices is to partner with the outstanding providers of Infinity Primary Care to promote high-quality, patient-centered care to the Livonia community,” says Dr. Mark LePage, CEO of IHA. “We intend to hold true to our core mission of compassionate, patient-centered care that delights our patients.”

“We are confident that the nearly 20,000 patients under the care of these two practices will be able to count on IHA to provide access to an extensive range of high-quality services. And, as the Medical Group for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, we are very excited to partner with Infinity Primary Care to extend our geographic reach into Livonia and western Wayne County as we further the mission of our integrated delivery system in partnership with our hospital partner, St Mary Mercy Livonia.”

IHA says it expects the transition to take place by Dec. 1.

5G Automotive Association to Present C-V2X Virtual Showcase Oct. 27
The 5G Automotive Association is presenting a virtual showcase on C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything) on Oct. 27 at 2 p.m.

C-V2X technology is capable of making America’s roads safer, smarter, and more efficient, by allowing vehicles to “talk” with each other and everything around them using both direct and mobile network communications. Its effectiveness is expected to grow with the evolutionary path to 5G-V2X, which should reduce accidents on U.S. roads and better protect pedestrians and cyclists.

The event will have feature a panel discussion moderated by Jim Misener,  5GAA board member and Qualcomm senior director. Panelists include John Kwant, global director of government relations, mobility and advanced technologies at Ford Motor Co.; Anupam Malhotra, director of connected vehicles and data at Audi of America; Darran Anderson, director of strategy and innovation for the Texas DOT;  Josh Rowan, commissioner of the Atlanta DOT; and Randell Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

For more information and to register, visit here.

Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice Launch Statewide Art Program
Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice have launched a $1 million statewide art program benefiting pediatric hospice patients and their families all across Michigan.

The Van Allsburg Pediatric Hospice Art Program is a virtual art experience designed to provide fun, educational, and creative opportunities for children receiving end-of-life care to express themselves artistically.

The program is led by a retired art teacher from Grand Rapids who teaches these 45-60 minute lessons at least twice a week in a virtual setting that establishes comfort and peace from a patients’ own home – something that is important to pediatric hospice patients and their families.

Buddy’s Pizza Launches New Menu Items and Halloween Specials
Buddy’s Pizza is launching new menu items and Halloween specials from Oct. 26-31.

New, limited-run menu items include Buffalo Buddy Pizza, topped with buffalo marinated chicken, fresh red and green onion, blue cheese crumbles, Wisconsin brick cheese, and completed with a buffalo sauce drizzle; Carmel Apple Pizza Dessert, made on Buddy’s famous double-proofed dough, topped with Hudsonville Ice Cream, layered with crisp granny smith apples, and finished off with a warm caramel drizzle.

Buddy’s Pizza also is offering $4 off half-baked Detroit-style pizzas, so families can make a fresh pie while spending time together at home – an extra ‘treat’ to enjoy for Halloween festivities!

The restaurant also has launched a loyalty app, which allows members to earn points and exclusive offers for each dollar spent at Buddy’s. All members will receive a free four-square offer upon sign-up and each year to celebrate their birthday. Additionally, each time users reach 200 points, they will be rewarded with $10 off their bill.

Michigan Economic Developers Association Announces Fellowship
The Michigan Economic Developers Association has started the Birgit M. Klohs Fellowship to increase women and minority participation in economic development in a way that supports MEDA’s membership, its committees, and the organization as a whole, by increasing opportunities for the education needed to build each recipient’s skills the abilities in economic development.

The fellowship is named after Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc., who first joined MEDA in 1977 when she worked for the Berrien County Economic Development Corp. She recently announced in August that she will retire on Jan. 31, 2021.

The fellowship will be managed by MEDA’s Emerging Leaders Committee. The first awardee is expected to be announced at MEDA’s 2021 Annual Meeting, which is scheduled to be in Grand Rapids.

“I am immensely honored and grateful to my fellow economic developers at MEDA for the creation of this fellowship,” says Klohs. “Increasing opportunities for women and people of color is critical to the future of the economic development profession and our state’s prosperity, and I look forward to seeing the success of future fellowship awardees.”

For more information, visit here.

Blue Sprig Pediatrics Acquires Momentum Autism Therapy Services
Blue Sprig Pediatrics Inc. in Houston has acquired Momentum Autism Therapy Services in Plymouth Township. Momentum is a center and home-based provider of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy services treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are proud to partner with the team at Momentum and excited about the opportunity to expand into Michigan,” says Keith Jones, president and CEO of BlueSprig. “Moving into a new area to serve a population in need of high-quality services, advocacy, and awareness is paramount to our mission.”

Landria Seals Green, CEO of Momentum, says, “Our team at Momentum is excited to partner with the BlueSprig Family. To reach more families and have a greater impact in Michigan is a dream fulfilled. From the very first conversation, it felt like a great synergy and partnership. Michigan is filled with families from many different backgrounds, and BlueSprig understands the importance of diversity and that treatment is not a one size model.”