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.
Organizers Cancel Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise
After months of uncertainly, today it’s official: the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, scheduled for Aug. 15, has been canceled by its organizers due to concerns about gathering crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Notice: Due to public health concerns caused by COVID-19, all community events planned for the 26th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise have been canceled,” the event’s website says. The Dream Cruise has been run every year since 1995.
Communities along the Cruise’s route voted back in May to cancel their associated public events. It’s uncertain how officials can prevent cruisers from driving their vehicles along Woodward that day.
For car enthusiasts who still want to participate in an event that weekend, M1 Concourse in Pontiac is hoping to fill the void with the inaugural Woodward Dream Show, Aug. 13-15. Organizers expect it to become an annual event.
The Woodward Dream Show will include hot rods, muscle cars, race cars, and cruisers on display. The event will feature a juried show and competition, with food, fashion, and design elements all incorporated in the three-day weekend.
Officials say they are working closely with local authorities to incorporate the latest health and safety measures and best practices. If regulations or conditions deem it unsafe to hold the event as scheduled, contingency plans are in place, which includes alternative dates.
The event is presented by the Pontiac Motorsports Exposition, founded this year by the owners of M1 Concourse. The purpose of the exposition is twofold: Create a showcase for innovative automotive and motorsports events utilizing M1 Concourse’s 1.5-mile road course, and benefit the city of Pontiac.
Federal Government – Administration Secures New Supplies of Remdesivir for U.S.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced an agreement to secure large supplies of the drug Remdesivir for the United States from Gilead Sciences through September, allowing American hospitals to purchase the drug in amounts allocated by HHS and state health departments.
HHS has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug. This represents 100 percent of Gilead’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 percent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 percent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), in addition to an allocation for clinical trials. A treatment course of Remdesivir is, on average, 6.25 vials.
“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs Remdesivir can get it,” says Alex Azar, secretary of HHS.
Hospitals will receive the product shipped by AmerisourceBergen and will pay no more than Gilead’s Wholesale Acquisition Price (WAC), which amounts to approximately $3,200 per treatment course. Generally, patients do not pay directly for hospital-administered drugs like Remdesivir; rather, for Medicare and most private insurers, the drug’s cost is incorporated into payments made by the insurer, such as Medicare paying for the drug through a diagnostic-related group.
These supplies will be allocated in the same way that Gilead’s donation of approximately 120,000 treatment courses of Remdesivir were allocated: HHS allocates product to state and territorial health departments based on COVID-19 hospital burden, and health departments allocate it to hospitals. The delivery of the purchased Remdesivir will be streamlined, going directly to the hospital, per the state’s allocation decision, rather than going first to the state health departments for subsequent delivery to hospitals.
Shipments likely will occur every two weeks, as they have with the donated product. The final allocation of Gilead’s approximately 120,000 donated treatment courses is being shipped today, June 29.
U-M Survey: Consumer Confidence Ticks Up in June as Economy Reopens
Consumer confidence rose moderately in June along with the reopening of the economy in several parts of the country, according to Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.
Compared with the shutdown in April, consumers thought current economic conditions had improved but have only partially offset the steep declines due to the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many consumers thought the economy could only improve from its virtual standstill in April, and the record-breaking rise in unemployment would surely ease in the year ahead, says Richard Curtin, a U-M economist and director of the surveys.
Although the majority anticipated improving conditions, consumers were just as definite in their opinions that bad times financially and high unemployment still would dominate the economy well into 2021, he says.
“The early reopening in some parts of the country has helped to restore jobs and incomes, but it has come at the cost of an increase in the rate of infections,” Curtin says. “The Sentiment Index rose by just 0.5 points among Southern residents in June, and by only 3.3 points among Western residents.
“In the Northeast, in contrast, the Sentiment Index rose by an all-time record 19.1 points in June, with Northeastern residents apparently expecting only a negligible increase in infections. The resurgence of the virus in the South and West is likely to be accompanied by weaker consumer demand, which may act to temper spending in the rest of the country.”
Assessments of their current finances remained near the lows recorded in April. Thirty-nine percent of all households in the June survey reported that their finances had recently improved, substantially below the 58 percent recorded in February. When asked to explain how their overall finances had changed, reports of income increases fell to just 28 percent in June, the smallest proportion in six years.
The largest net income declines from the February peak were among those under age 45 (down 40 percentage points) and households with incomes in the top third (down 38 percentage points). When asked about their income prospects for the year ahead, the expected median annual rate of gain was just 0.5% from April to June, the lowest quarterly figure in the past seven years.
The appeal of price discounts prompts consumers to buy before the discounts vanish, and the persistent uncertainty about future jobs and incomes favors postponement. Recent data have indicated a modest increase in the attractiveness of discounts and low interest rates on purchases of household durables, vehicles and homes. While higher monthly sales gains are anticipated, the level of discretionary spending will remain depressed through 2021. The gains are likely to be lessened by a slowdown in reopening the economy in the months ahead.
The Consumer Sentiment Index was 78.1 in the June 2020 survey, up from 72.3 in May but well below last year’s 98.2. The Expectations Index rose to 72.3 in June, up from 65.9 in May and substantially below last year’s 89.3. The Current Conditions Index was 87.1 in June, up from 82.3 in May, but significantly below last June’s 111.9.
For more information about the survey and its results, visit here.
Karmanos Cancer Institute Launches COVID-19 Community Survey
Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit has launched a survey to ask community members about their experiences with health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions will focus specifically on cancer prevention, screening, and treatment, as well as COVID-19 concerns, social distancing and impacts on diverse communities.
The survey will enroll 2,000 participants in Karmanos’ 46-county catchment area. Members of the general adult population, cancer patients, and cancer survivors are asked to participate. The survey is funded by the National Cancer Institute.
Responses will be analyzed by Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Health Equity and Community Engagement’s research study team which will create reports, presentations, and publications based on the data. Specific reports will be provided to community partner organizations and other social service agencies so they may develop and implement strategies to increase access to appropriate cancer resources based on survey results, in collaboration with partner organizations. Results will inform practical policies and systems change to support vulnerable populations that disproportionately carry the COVID-19 burden.
“We’re pleased to offer our community the opportunity to participate in this survey, which will directly impact health care now and in the future,” says Hayley Thompson, associate center director of community outreach and engagement at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and principal investigator for this study. Our valuable tax dollars are being put to work through this survey and we encourage the public to share their experiences.”
The survey will cover a variety of topics including demographics, mood and well-being, dietary habits, financial hardship, health care needs, and cancer control. It also will examine differences in the habits of individuals living in rural and urban areas throughout the state. Furthermore, the survey will address perceived stigma related to COVID-19 and its variability across racial/ethnic groups as well as perceptions of the racism and inequality that inform COVID-19 disparities.
The survey will take 30-40 minutes to complete and can be accessed here. Participants also may take the survey via phone beginning June 29 by calling 313-576-8869. The survey will be available in Spanish and Arabic starting in early July. It will remain open until Sept. 1 or until 2,000 responses are collected. Participants who complete the survey will receive a $10 electronic gift card to Meijer or Target. Individual responses will be kept confidential. Data will be reported for the entire group or subgroups; the information of any individual will never be reported.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Michigan. Expected cancer mortality in 2020 may be underestimated, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of infections in the state, Michigan, ranked fifth in COVID-19 incidence and mortality. This is largely driven by the predominantly African American city of Detroit, which accounts for one-third of Michigan’s COVID-19 cases and more than 40 percent of related deaths. COVID-19-related disruptions in daily life and routines may have a broad range of adverse consequences including limited access to care, resources, and information, as well as psychological distress, which undermines prevention and control efforts at the population and individual level and across the cancer care continuum. This also may exacerbate persistent racial disparities in cancer care and outcomes.
Ford and Wayne State Expand Mobile COVID-19 Testing
The coalition between Ford Motor Co. and ACCESS in Dearborn, and Wayne State University and the Wayne State University Physician Group in Detroit expanded its mobile COVID-19 testing effort, increasing the number of test vehicles in the fleet, expanding its area of operation as well as the types of tests available, and opening the program to local communities in need.
Since launching in mid-April, the initiative has tested more than 10,000 individuals throughout Michigan, including first responders, health care workers, police officers, and firefighters. Additionally, many individuals also have been tested multiple times to ensure they remain healthy and virus-free.
Ford and its in-house incubator Ford X have provided four Ford Transits – each fully equipped for mobile COVID-19 testing – as mobile screening units to conduct and support testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. This includes a Transit that’s been upfitted to provide a better environment for health care workers, with built-in features such as drop-down tables, additional power sources, centrifuges for blood draws, refrigeration, and more protective equipment.
Additionally, each vehicle is equipped with tents, sanitation, power, and Wi-Fi to support mobile testing. Two Lincoln Personal Driver vehicles previously provided by Ford continue to be used to run medical equipment and supplies to the testing sites and lab facilities, and the company continues to consider other ways to expand the fleet.
“As stay-at-home restrictions are lifted and people ease back into their normal routines, there is still a huge need for accessible COVID-19 testing,” says Kristin Welch, manager of strategy and operations for Ford X. “With a larger fleet and the capability to service a growing number of areas, we are proud to help expand this initiative beyond front-line health care workers and aid communities in need.”
“Although there is still a strong need for COVID-19 testing, expanding our services to include blood pressure and HIV testing, and broadening our community outreach, allows us to have even a bigger impact in improving community health,” says Dr. Phillip Levy, assistant vice president for translational sciences and clinical research innovation at Wayne State. He also is associate chair for research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, as well as WSUPG’s chief innovation officer.
While priority access continues to be given to first responders and others on the front lines of the pandemic, this effort also is providing testing services to local communities at large, serving those who are high risk, those who may have had exposure to the virus, and those who may be asymptomatic. Health care workers are providing tests at locations such as nursing homes, substance abuse centers, homeless/community shelters, and more.
In addition to active virus and antibody testing related to COVID-19, the service has been expanded to include HIV testing and blood pressure screenings. These services have been added to support those who may have high risk for disease in general, underlying conditions, or who may not have access to more traditional health care services.
As part of this program, clinicians and professionals from Wayne State University, the Wayne State University Physician Group and ACCESS are providing free testing that does not require a prescription from a physician. Test results are typically returned within 24 hours.
In Related News: Wayne State University Campus Health Center is hosting a free hour-long webinar on Tuesday, July 14 at noon, titled “Suicide Prevention 101: Mental Health & Suicide Prevention During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
The webinar is designed to teach how to look after the mental health of friends and family and work together to prevent suicide during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the leading cause of death of university students, and as many as 7.7 percent of undergraduate and graduate students will seriously consider attempting suicide.
Please call 313-577-5041 for registration information.
Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School, with campuses in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and Riverview, Fla., will continue teaching classes only online for the fall 2020 semester, while allowing limited in-person access on campus to use the library, high-speed internet, and quiet study spaces.
“WMU-Cooley has long worked to integrate the science of learning into our classes, including our groundbreaking Weekend Blended Learning Program, our hybrid online/in-class offering that makes it possible for many full-time working students to earn their law degree,” says James McGrath, president and dean of WMU-Cooley. “Our graduate LL.M. (Master of Laws) programs were already 100 percent online, so we have the experience and infrastructure to provide a quality education online to our students until we can safely return to the physical classroom.”
The school’s board approved lowering tuition for the 2020 fall class.
In Related News: Davenport University in Grand Rapids will conduct a drive-through commencement celebration to recognize its 2020 graduates on Sunday Aug. 9 at its W.A. Lettinga Campus, located just outside of downtown Grand Rapids.
“Our graduates have worked hard to achieve their dreams and we want to have an opportunity to recognize their incredible achievements,” says Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “We’ve come up with a creative solution that will enable both students and their families to celebrate their long-awaited graduation.”
Graduates who wish to participate are asked to register here.
Motown Museum to Reopen July 15
The Motown Museum in Detroit says it will reopen on Wednesday, July 15, offering guests a safer, more-personalized museum experience in the wake of COVID-19.
The museum closed its doors March 13 and has spent the last four months developing and refining plans to safely reopen for guests in a way that would prioritize their health and safety while preserving and enhancing the experience. In addition to a reimagined process for guests to move through the museum, photos, and videos will be allowed inside the museum for the first time.
“This has been a challenging few months for all of us, but the talent of our team and the resilience and resolve of our organization to make this reopening date happen is truly special,” says Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum. “We have worked extremely hard to make sure this time was used effectively, and that when we were able to safely reopen, we could allow museum visitors to experience that one-of-a-kind Motown magic in this new environment where safety is our top priority. As we open our doors once again, we are filled with energy and optimism. We can’t wait to share in the enjoyment with our fans, our guests, and every member of our extended Motown family.”
Walk-up guests can be accommodated, but guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online prior to their visit. It is mandatory for all guests to wear a mask inside the museum. If a guest does not have a face covering, Motown Museum will provide a mask. Guests must undergo a touchless temperature check outside Motown Museum upon arrival and complete a short health screening questionnaire for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival.
To purchase tickets and for more information, visit here.
Bubba Watson Set to Participate in Rocket Mortgage Classic Exhibition
Bubba Watson, a 12-time PGA Tour winner and two-time Masters champion, will team with Harold Varner III against former World No. 1 Jason Day and Wesley Bryan in a nine-hole exhibition prior to the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club to raise funds toward ending the digital divide in Detroit. The tournament will be played July 2-5 with no fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exhibition, which will be played on Wednesday, July 1 between 1-3 p.m., will air on the Golf Channel and other PGA Tour social media platforms as a special presentation of PGA Tour Live. Fans can text “AREA313” to 243725 to donate toward “Changing the Course,” multi-year initiative that aims to end the digital divide in Detroit and ensure every Detroit resident has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to get out there Wednesday for a little hit and giggle with some friends to raise money for a great cause,” says Watson. “When I heard about what Rocket Mortgage and the tournament were doing to provide internet access to Detroit residents, I knew I wanted to get behind it and do what I could to help out. I hope the fans enjoy getting a little inside look at the banter we always have during a practice round and get behind the effort too by donating what they can.”
Players will play the back nine of the tournament course, including the tournament’s famed AREA 313 (holes 14-15-16). Wednesday’s exhibition will kick off the AREA 313 Challenge – any golfer who scores 3-1-3 on those holes throughout the four rounds of the tournament will trigger a $313,000 donation in the player’s name toward the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Changing the Course initiative. Additionally, Rocket Mortgage has pledged to donate $5,000 for every 3 made on hole 14, $25,000 for every 1 made on hole 15 and $5,000 for every 3 made on hole 16.
In Related News: The majority of the player field – 153 of 156 players – for the tournament was finalized on Friday. The field for the second edition of the $7.5 million event features 82 PGA Tour winners, including 13 major champions and 10 golfers who have won during this 2019-20 PGA Tour season. Fifteen players currently are ranked within the top 30 of the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 FedExCup standings.
Some of the more recognizable names include the four players participating in Wednesday’s exhibition, Ricky Fowler, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Keegan Bradley, and last year’s winner, Nate Lashley.