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.
Small Business Survival
One in seven Michigan small businesses, or 14 percent, are not confident they will survive the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey done by the Small Business Association of Michigan.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and closure orders have created such an uphill challenge for small businesses that one out of every seven in Michigan aren’t sure they’ll be able to recover,” says Brian Calley, president of the SBAM. “Michigan small businesses are truly struggling to survive.”
The survey of more than 1,300 Michigan small businesses, conducted in late April, also found that 60 percent of businesses have had to lay off at least one employee.
Additional results revealed:
- Nearly 45 percent of small businesses are closed.
- More than 50 percent of small businesses don’t have the ability for their employees to work from home.
- 72 percent of surveyed businesses have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, and 43 percent have applied for other loans or advances.
- 56 percent of small businesses don’t believe they will be able to implement split shifts to limit exposure to the virus.
- 35 percent of small businesses would need additional physical space to meet social distancing guidelines.
- 44 percent of small businesses said they don’t qualify for classification as critical essential infrastructure.
“These are extremely difficult times for Michigan’s small businesses, and the results of this survey confirm those facts,” says Rob Fowler, CEO of the SBAM. “SBAM is doing everything we can to help small businesses get through these times so they can hopefully return to their place as the backbone of our economy.”
State Government – Medical Guidelines
The state of Michigan has issued new guidelines for non-essential medical services, which were restricted early in the COVID-19 pandemic by Executive Order 2020-17 to ensure health care systems had enough staffing, bed capacity, and personal protective equipment to care for all patients, as well as to limit the spread of the virus.
“The Executive Order gives providers broad discretion,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. “The guidelines should assist in determining the best way to treat patients without delaying needed medical services.”
The guidelines include:
- Limiting in-person contact as much as possible, and implementing best practices for infection prevention and control, such as maximizing the use of telehealth, eliminating waiting room times, requiring patients to wear masks, and more.
- Prioritizing in-person patient interactions and face-to-face appointments for the most vulnerable patients, and for necessary services like immunizations.
- Reassuring patients of appropriate safety measures such as expanded testing and PPE.
- Assuring appropriate surge capacity and developing emergency plans including how to gradually start doing more procedures, conserving PPE, and ensuring adequate supplies and staffing.
“We hope this guidance helps answer questions but recognize it is not a substitute for clinical judgement,” Khaldun says. “Providers know their patients best and will understand the safest, most effective ways to manage their care under these circumstances created by the pandemic.”
It is also important for patients to understand they should not delay important medical care, especially emergency care. If there are signs of potentially life-threatening disease, such as a heart attack or stroke, do not delay testing or treatment.
Federal Government – OSHA Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has translated and published its “Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus” poster in 11 additional languages.
Currently available in English and Spanish, the poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer should implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Safety measures include encouraging sick workers to stay home; establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts; discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks and other work equipment; and using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals or that have label claims against COVID-19.
The poster is available here for download in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese traditional, Korean, Tagalog, Brazilian Portuguese, French Creole, Polish, Vietnamese,
Chinese simplified, Hmong, and Russian.
The additional translations are OSHA’s latest effort to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to President Trump’s action to increase the availability of general use respirators, OSHA has issued a series of guidance documents that expand access to respirators in the workplace. OSHA also has published Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, its guidance aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.
Care Packages for Veterans
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and partners will distribute care packages to Lansing area veterans and National Guard and Reserve members as a symbol of appreciation and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The care packages, which include gift cards, snacks, and hand-written notes of support from students across the country, will be distributed May 9 at a drive-through, contact-free event in Lansing. Supplies are limited and registration is required at Eventbrite.
“These care packages do not necessarily carry a significant monetary value, but the value of interaction and an expression of thanks can be priceless, even if it is done while following social distancing guidelines,” says Zaneta Adams, director of the MVAA. “This is an opportunity to share resources and provide a symbol of appreciation to those who were willing to give their all.”
A team of Veteran Navigators from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will be available to check in with veterans and provide additional assistance for themselves or their families. Veteran Navigators assist veterans of all eras regardless of discharge type and often provide resources for issues such as mental health, homelessness, and substance abuse.
The care packages event is one of several new MVAA initiatives designed to support Michigan’s veterans and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Others include Check on MIVet, which aims to connect veterans to benefits and services they have earned, and a series of Virtual Coffee Hour Q&As that provide the latest veteran-specific information on topics including health care, employment, and education.
“As our state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MVAA has stepped up to create new and innovate ways to connect with veterans to ensure their needs continue to be met,” says Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “The agency has adapted their outreach to continue their exceptional service, identifying and removing barriers veterans face in employment, education, health care, and quality of life.”
Veterans and family members with questions about MVAA programs or benefits and services they may have earned can call a 24/7/365 hotline at 1-800-MICH-VET.
Federal Government – Food Assistance for College Students
Close to 90,000 low-income college students in Michigan who are enrolled in career or technical education programs now are eligible to receive food assistance benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to combat rising food insecurity among students, exacerbated by COVID-19.
Students must meet all requirements of the U.S. Food Assistance Program, administered by the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity, which are taking credit for the program, before the state distributes the federal SNAP benefits.
“Hunger was a problem for students before COVID-19, and it is a far greater challenge today,” says Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. “Because of this policy change, thousands of students will no longer need to choose between dropping out of school and getting critical food aid. The change will help Michigan students put food on the table in today’s crisis. It will help Michigan be more competitive economically as the economy recovers.”
Until now, college students enrolled in qualifying career and technical education programs who attended school at least half-time could not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, even if they met income eligibility requirements, unless they fell into certain categories such as working at least 20 hours per week, caring for a child, or being unable to work. Due to COVID-19, many students have lost their jobs, and as a result, they have lost their SNAP eligibility through no fault of their own.”
With the change this week, college students will be eligible for SNAP if they meet income and other program requirements and are enrolled at least half-time in an occupational program that leads to employment under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the Twenty-First Century Act of 2018 known as Perkins V.
Currently, the Perkins Postsecondary CTE Program provides funding to 28 community colleges, three public universities, and one tribal college to support pathways to high-wage, high-skilled and in-demand careers that require less than a bachelor’s degree.
There are 88,458 students enrolled in these programs in Michigan. Some of those students already may be receiving food assistance benefits, while others will become eligible for this new opportunity.
“Supporting CTE students, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only helps them upskill for in-demand jobs, it also helps Michigan employers fill critical job openings that support our economic future,” says Jeff Donofrio, director of LEO.
For anyone currently enrolled in a Perkins program with an existing food assistance case who has experienced a loss of income, their MDHHS caseworker will determine Perkins program status to ensure the benefits are correct.
Any Perkins student who wants to apply for food assistance should provide documentation from their school that outlines their major and program or course of study to assist in determining their eligibility for SNAP. Examples could include a proof of registration and a document showing their major, program, or course of study. A caseworker will use that information to determine eligibility.
Students interested in applying for food assistance should click here. Verification of enrollment in a Perkins program must be provided by the student or may be requested from the postsecondary institution. Learn more about the Perkins Postsecondary CTE Program here.
As it prepares to re-open in the coming weeks, the Royal Park Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel located in downtown Rochester, has received AAA’s Best of Housekeeping award, which recognizes properties across the country that significantly surpass AAA’s high standards of cleanliness.
Royal Park Hotel is among only 25 percent of the 27,000 hotels AAA inspects nationwide to earn this distinction. To receive the award, hotels must demonstrate excellent housekeeping on two consecutive inspections and be free of AAA member complaints.
“It all starts with our committed, dedicated team members who are trained to pay attention to the slightest details,” says Kevin Bayless, director of housekeeping at the Royal Park Hotel. “This is especially important in today’s challenging times with COVID-19 to make sure that our property is spotless. Our guests can trust that our team of dedicated hospitality professionals will provide them with a healthy environment and the highest level of cleanliness.”
Over the past six weeks, the Royal Park Hotel team has worked behind the scenes to ensure it is providing the highest level of safety and sanitation for both guests and employees.
“Every day, luxury will always be part of our hotel DNA,” says Sue Keels, general manager of the hotel. “This award is part of that for us, and more important now than ever.
“Moving forward, an additional luxury that we feel every guest deserves will be peace of mind in our safety and sanitation practices.”
Wayne State University in Detroit is helping incoming freshmen transition to college-level coursework by offering a free general education course to qualified students during the summer semester, which begins June 24, through the university’s new Kick Start College program.
Free online courses will be offered in oral communication, basic composition, and intermediate composition.
“We know that students and families may be suffering hardships due to COVID-19,” says Keith Whitfield, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at WSU. “Wayne State wants to ensure that students feel they have an option for college coursework from a university that understands and cares about their situation.”
Students who participate in the program will earn college credit.
“Many students have additional time to spend on coursework and may wish to kick start college by earning credit at no cost,” says Dawn Medley, associate vice president of enrollment management at the university. “Wayne State wants to provide that boost so students can move forward toward their aspirations of a earning a college degree.”
In order to participate in the program, eligible full-time freshmen must meet the following criteria:
- Be admitted to WSU as a full-time freshman for fall 2020 by June 1.
- Reserve a spot for new student orientation at any time during the summer.
- Enroll for 15 hours for the fall 2020 term and sign a pledge to keep that commitment.
- Finalize their summer and fall registration by Friday, June 19.
- Have filed a 2020-2021 FAFSA, if eligible, by June 1.
Visit the Kick Start College webpage for more details and additional guidance on how to qualify. Qualified students must fill out a request form to begin the process. Sections are limited and expected to fill quickly. For admission and financial aid questions, contact the Student Service Center at 313-577-2100 or email@example.com.
Counseling for Independent Workers
Farmington Hills-based GreenPath Financial Wellness, a national nonprofit that provides financial counseling and debt management services, is partnering with the nonprofit iPSE-U.S., the Association of Independent Workers, to offer financial counseling, debt management, financial education, portable benefits, and business support programs for the nation’s more than 40 million independent workers and newly unemployed looking to enter the gig-economy.
Both GreenPath and iPSE-U.S. are committed to supporting the millions of displaced quarantined workers facing financial challenges.
The two-year project, which began in February 2020, now is being accelerated to support U.S. relief efforts to those who need immediate help navigating their debt and financial obligation, with additional access to benefits and insurance programs while they are at home in quarantine, and thereafter. In the U.S. alone, contractors, freelancers, gig workers, consultants, and self-employed workers across the nation generated $1.28 trillion of revenue in 2018. It’s estimated that 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will engage in independent work by 2023.
“Fifty-eight percent of full-time gig workers would have difficulty covering a $400 emergency,” says Kristen Holt, president and CEO of GreenPath Financial Wellness. “Through our partnership with iPSE, our team of certified counselors can help independent workers navigate the financial consequences of COVID-19, manage debt, and ease stress through every stage of their journey.”
Carl Camden, founder and president of iPSE-U.S., says, “The COVID-19 crisis has pushed this initiative to the front line. Solid financial health is essential for the nation’s independent workforce, especially now while people are quarantined at home with many out of work and in distress. My message to the 40 million plus independent workers and newly unemployed entering the gig economy, this should be a time of hope. Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. iPSE-U.S. and GreenPath will be here to help you through the entire process until it’s okay in the end.”
For more information, click here.
ACG Detroit, NextGen, and ACGWM Young Professionals are hosting a “Navigating the New Networking Terrain” webinar on Wednesday, May 13 at 11:30 a.m.
Stay Home, Stay Safe orders are changing the way people navigate their personal and professional lives and impacting the way business gets done. The webinar’s speakers – Liz Briggson of Adamy Valuation, Mike Brown of Charter Capital partners, Ashley Gray of Cascade Partners, and Alex Drost of Connection Builders – will talk about these changes and the opportunities to position ourselves for steady growth and sustainable futures.
To register for the webinar, click here.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchens continue to provide food for the Detroit community and those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Capuchin Soup Kitchen meal sites currently are open and serving take-away meals. The Capuchin Services Center is distributing food pantry items on a drive-thru basis. Social workers and client advocates also are available.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, take-away meals are being served outdoors at both meal sites located at 1264 Meldrum and 4390 Conner on the east side of Detroit. Adjusted hours for the Meldrum location are: 8:30-9:30 a.m. and from 11:00 a.m.-1 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Hours for the Conner meal program site are: 8:30-9:30 a.m. and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and until 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Social workers and chaplains also are available.
Adjusted hours for the Capuchin Services Center food pantry (located at 6333 Medbury) are from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Those seeking food from the pantry are asked to make an appointment by calling 313-925-0514. The Capuchin Services Center will distribute these pantry items on a drive-thru basis. Social workers will be available. In-kind donations such as clothing are not being accepted until further notice to cut down on travel and traffic.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s two residential programs remain safely in operation. Those two programs are Jefferson House, a residential substance abuse treatment program for formerly homeless men, and On the Rise Bakery, a residential job training program for formerly incarcerated men. The bakery currently is producing food for the soup kitchens rather than for retail sales. The Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Earthworks Urban Farm remains in operation with a skeleton crew to keep seedlings and transplants alive for vegetable production for the soup kitchens and distribution for the community.
To donate to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, click here.
Support for Hospitals
AIREA, a Southfield based commercial furniture dealership owned by former Detroit Pistons guard Vinnie Johnson, will be installing a 35-foot sign on the front lawn of Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak in recognition of National Nurses Day on Wednesday, May 6 at 4 p.m. Funds for the sign were donated by AIREA employees and matched by the company. In addition, AIREA is providing a dinner from Berkley Common for the staff of the hospital’s emergency care unit.
Lighthouse, a Pontiac-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty, is partnering with Detroit-based audio/visual studio Broken Blanket, and entertainment attorney Howard Hertz to produce Lighthouse LIVE, a 12-hour online event featuring music and entertainment from more than 50 Michigan artists.
The event will take place on Saturday, May 9 from 2 p.m.-2 a.m. on Lighthouse’s Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as here.
The event, sponsored by Gardner-White, will raise funds to help children, families, seniors, and individuals in need across southeast Michigan who are affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The PNC Foundation will match up to $75,000 in donations starting today and running through Lighthouse LIVE.
“All of us in the greater Detroit community are fortunate to have organizations such as Lighthouse working hard to meet the significant need for food and shelter that has become so much more profound due to COVID-19,” says Ric DeVore, regional president for Detroit and southeast Michigan for PNC. “Our thanks to all of the amazing artists who are donating their talents to Lighthouse LIVE to help support our neighbors during this unprecedented time.”
Ryan Hertz, CEO of Lighthouse, says, “The response to Lighthouse LIVE has been overwhelming. It’s incredible to see so many artists coming together to help our neighbors who are struggling. Even before this crisis, there was a tremendous need for food and shelter in our community. COVID-19 has amplified that need, and it is our hope that Lighthouse LIVE will raise much-needed funds to sustain our ongoing efforts.”
Lighthouse LIVE will include live and pre-recorded performances by Alexander Zonjic, Ali McManus, Alice Cooper, Audra Kubat, Austin Scott, Baybro, Billy Brandt, Bobby Harlow, Booster Mostyn, Carolyn Striho and Scott Dailey, Cassi Fitch, David Winans II, Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences Choir, Devin Scillian, Emily Rogers, Ethan and Gretchen Davidson, Eva Under Fire, George Aneed, Jeff Gutt, Jesse Palter, Jill Jack, Jimmie Bones, Joan Belgrave, John Sinclair, JonPaul Wallace, Julianne Ankley, Kaleido, Karen Newman and Michael King, Laith Al-Saadi, Laura Rain, Leopold and His Fiction, Lily Tomlin, Lin-Say, Liz Larin, Nick Margetic, Oakland University Chorale, Ralphe Armstrong, Raye Williams, RJ Harper, Robert Bradley, Rocky Wallace, Sean Blackman, Sonia Lee, Stephen Clark, Suzi Quatro, Tegan Marie, The Accidentals, The Beggars, The Four Tops’ Alexander Morris, The GO, The Vibrant Ones, Thornetta Davis, Tino Gross & Linda Lexy, Tony “T Money” Green, Tosha Owens, Trey Simon, and others.