COVID-19 Update: Pharmacies to Offer Testing, Emergency Services Licensing Requirements Temporarily Suspended, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 8

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.

Pharmacies To Conduct COVID-19 Tests
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued new guidance today under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized.

“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it,” says Alex Azar, HHS Secretary. “Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information. The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers.”

OASH’s Guidance for Licensed Pharmacists, COVID-19 Testing, and Immunity under the PREP Act is available here.

TCF Regional Care Center
The State of Michigan today announced a partnership of health care providers that will provide critical support, staffing, and resources at the TCF Regional Care Center (TCF Center in downtown Detroit), scheduled to accept its first 25 patients on Friday, April 10. The partnership includes Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health, and the Detroit Medical Center.
Key personnel at TCF Regional Care Center were also announced today.

  • Lynn Torossian will lead overall management of TCF Regional Care Center. Torossian most recently served as President and CEO of CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
  • Daniel Medrano will lead day-to-day operations at the TCF Regional Care Center. Medrano is currently serving as Corporate Vice President of Facilities Management of McLaren Health Care.
  • Jenny Atas will lead medical services at TCF Regional Care Center. Dr. Atas is the regional care coordinator for Region 2 South Trauma Network (RTN), serving Monroe, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Region 2 South is served by 35 hospitals, 92 EMS agencies, four EMS Medical Control Authorities and four Health Departments.

Members of the Michigan National Guard have been assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with logistics support to establish the alternative care facility at TCF that will have up to 1,000 beds and will receive patients from other southeast Michigan acute-care hospitals at least 48 hours after having been admitted as an inpatient at one of those acute-care facilities. The TCF Regional Care Center will not accept patients by ambulance or walk-up, and it will not have an intensive care unit area or provide care to patients who need ventilation.

Each of the health care systems participating are bringing critical resources to the effort. Henry Ford Health System will be supporting pharmaceutical purchasing and patient tracking services at the TCF Regional Care Center. Henry Ford Health System will also have members serving in key roles at TCF Regional Care Center, including the on-site clinical liaison.

Daniel Medrano will continue at TCF Regional Care Center after serving as part of the team to get the alternative care facility operational over the past week. Additional staff from McLaren Health Care will also support the efforts on site.
Beaumont Health will work to support certain procurement efforts vital to TCF Regional Care Center operations, subject to market availability, and Detroit Medical Center is supplying critical equipment on site at the alternate care facility.

While partner health care systems have volunteered key leadership positions and personnel at the alternative care facility, it will largely be staffed by a Public Health Strike Team, through FEMA. Trained medical professionals can register to serve their fellow Michiganders by assisting hospitals in fighting COVID-19 here.

Today, the State of Michigan temporarily suspended requirements regarding licensing and regulation of emergency medical services. Executive Order 2020-39 takes effect immediately and will remain in place until the end of the declared emergency or until otherwise rescinded. As a result of this order, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services will not be required to conduct annual random inspections of life support vehicles or annual inspections of life support agencies. Instead, a life support vehicle or agency will only be inspected when the department has reason to believe the vehicle or agency is out of compliance.

The Executive Order also allows the transport of a patient, in emergency or non-emergency situations, to any destination designated by the medical control authority or other regulatory authority, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or the local health department. In addition, staffing and licensing requirements for ambulances are also reduced and the expiration dates of all emergency medical services personnel licenses and professional certifications in basic cardiac life support will be extended. To view the order, click here.

Remote Transactions and Estate Planning
The State of Michigan today announced an executive order that will reduce unnecessary in-person contact through the use of electronic signatures, remote notarizations, remote witness attestations and acknowledgments, and remote visitations. Executive Order 2020-41 is effective immediately and continues through May 6, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

Unless the law specifically mandates a physical signature, the order temporarily suspends the rules and procedures under the Uniform Electronic Act and permits the use of an electronic signature for a transaction whenever a signature is required under Michigan law, Additionally, the order specifies that any notarial act that is required under Michigan law may be performed utilizing two-way real-time audiovisual technology, provided that certain conditions within the order are met.

The order can be found here.

Medical Supplies
The DTE Energy Foundation has delivered 100,000 KN95 respiratory masks to hospitals in southeast Michigan. It had already donated more than 50,000 respiratory masks to the Detroit Police Department, the Highland Park Police Department, and hospitals across the region and state. It is also supporting more than 1,000 nonprofits across the state, funding more than 1 million meals, and helping 100,000 families with basic needs. Last week, the foundation announced it will match donations to the Michigan Association of United Ways and Michigan Action through April 16.

The KN95 masks remove particles from the air that are breathed through it. Weeks ago, the foundation reached out to the Michigan Emergency Response Team to learn how it might help secure respiratory masks for health care workers. It had already secured masks for its employees, who are on the front lines restoring power and repairing gas leaks. DTE supply chain experts worked around the clock to buy masks from local and international resources.

The bulk of DTE’s 2.3 million mask order was secured with help from Choctaw-Kaul, a minority-owned distribution company in Detroit. The foundation is donating the masks and coordinating the distribution with Michigan’s Emergency Command Center and county emergency managers as part of its committed $16 million to help out in the pandemic.

The foundation is also supporting 360 small businesses across the state in cooperation with TechTown Detroit. It has also provided a grant to the Accounting Aid Society to guide small businesses in accessing the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to pay employees during the pandemic.

Gerry Anderson, executive chairman of DTE and chair of Business Leaders for Michigan is leading a special task force gathering best practices from global companies and up-to-date information from state and national government sources to help employers, associations, and the state respond to the pandemic. The task force is working with the governor’s office.

Food and Housing Help
Ypsilanti-based SOS Community Services is providing pre-bagged groceries at the door of its pantry from 1-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesdays. The pantry is located at 114 N. River St. Appointments are not necessary, and anyone who needs food is eligible. People are asked to maintain 6 feet of distance from others when collecting their groceries.

The center has also placed portable toilets at its River Street building and its building at 101 S. Huron St., Ypsilanti. The toilets are meant to help people who are homeless, as public restrooms have closed. They also offer sinks and soap.

Since the pandemic started, SOS moved three families into housing. Case workers in the center’s housing and children’s programs continue to meet with families through video conferences and drop off supplies on their porches. Most of the people who receive help from SOS are hourly workers, and many have lost their jobs. More people have also requested help for the first time. The center’s food program has seen a 31 percent increase in requests for groceries since the pandemic started, according to Rhonda Weathers, executive director of SOS.

More information and opportunities to donate are available here.

Charity, an online video gaming company in Berkley, used its platform to help raise money for the Covid-19 outbreak. On Saturday, will donate the total revenue generated to the following charities: Direct Relief Fund, Project Cure, American Red Cross, CDC Foundation, Global Giving Foundation, and the United Way. In addition, has added a feature to their website that allows users to turn their loyalty reward points into donations to these charities.

In related news, the Delta Dental Foundation in Okemos (east of Lansing) has awarded $500,000 from its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund to organizations that provide oversight to networks of federally qualified health centers and safety net clinics including the Michigan Primary Care Association, My Community Dental Centers, Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, and Indiana Primary Health Care Association. Each received a $50,000 grant.

The emergency dental clinics at University of Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, and Indiana University were each awarded $15,000.

Dentists nationwide have been asked to close their practices and open only to treat dental emergencies. However, many Americans do not have a main dental provider, so many seek care at hospital emergency departments.

“Our safety-net dental systems need help so they can continue providing emergency dental care and alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments during this pandemic,” says Holli Seabury, executive director of the foundation. “With the high level of layoffs and job losses, many people are now uninsured and are facing financial instability. Safety-net dental clinics accept Medicaid and also offer a sliding fee scale based on income.”

The Indiana Primary Health Care Association is using its funding to buy personal protective equipment to distribute across the state. Many clinics don’t have the budget to account for the increase in the cost of the equipment, so the association is acting as a central distribution channel.

The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund is still accepting applications from nonprofits that have health and wellness focuses, provide emergency food assistance, or provide dental services. More information is available here.

Detroit’s Samaritas, a nonprofit that focuses on adoption, foster care, senior living, and affordable living, is looking for $250,000-$300,000 in donations to cover predicted costs for staff working from home. The funds will cover laptops, educational materials, and food. As of Tuesday, the organization had raised $156,000.

Samaritas has more than 60 programs in 40 sites across Michigan. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people take part in the organization’s programs each year, and the group employs more than 1,600 workers. The nonprofit help seniors, foster children, homeless individuals, affordable living residents, and refugees.

Expanded programming due to the pandemic includes one-to-one care for the program’s senior population and emergency protocols at heightened need; increased requests in affordable living communities; retooling foster care support, especially through digital avenues; making homeless facilities a place to live temporarily; and meeting the needs of refugees who have limited networks and cannot as easily shelter in place.