COVID-19 Update: Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day Goes Digital, GM Gets N95 Certification for Warren-made Respirators, 10M to Lose Health Insurance from Pandemic-related Job Loss, 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.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of July 13

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.

Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day Goes Digital
Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day, which will be an online-only event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, today announced applications are live for its fourth annual entrepreneurial competition, the largest of its kind in the Midwest.

Applications can be submitted now through Aug. 9 at DetroitDemoDay.com for the reimagined event showcasing Detroit-based entrepreneurs through episodic content released later this year.

Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day, previously called Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, will provide more than $1 million in funding, which winners will receive in the form of grants, interest-free loans, and equity investments ranging from $30,000 to $200,000. The online audience will once again play an important role in the event by voting for three recipients of $25,000 “People’s Choice” grants – one per category.

Finalists will be announced in September, and the finalists’ video pitches will go live in October. At that time, viewers will be able to vote online for their favorite business in each category – Start, Build, and Sustain, each focused on business issues related to the pandemic.

“The ongoing pandemic has forced entrepreneurs across the world to be more adaptable and resilient than ever before,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Mortgage. “While this year’s Detroit Demo Day has also required transformation, during difficult times it is even more important that we provide local small businesses with the resources they need to adapt and persevere so that Detroit remains the ambitious, entrepreneurial city we all know and love.”

Applicants must be a for-profit business with a product or service that is available for sale. Additionally, the business cannot have exceeded $2 million in annual revenue or raised more than $1 million in capital. To be eligible, companies must be based in Detroit or committed to relocating into the city.

For more information, visit here.

GM Receives N95 Certification for Respirators Made in Warren
General Motors Co. in Detroit has received N95 certification for the filtering facepiece respirators it makes at its Warren facility. The approval was attained through the new public-health emergency process implemented by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

As defined by NIOSH, the term N95 refers to the filter class, not the respirator. Many filtering facepiece respirators, however, have an N95 class filter and many people refer to them as N95 respirators. A filtering facepiece respirator that filters out at least 95 percent of airborne particles during “worst case” testing using a “most-penetrating” sized particle is given a 95 rating.

Achieving an N95 rating required an entirely new manufacturing process with four separate stations to help create a tight seal around the user’s face:

  • Station 1: Four layers of fabric are sandwiched together, tack-welded in place and then cut into rectangular “blanks.”
  • Station 2: Blanks are loaded into a template that welds the outer perimeter as well as the pocket for the wire nose piece.
  • Station 3: The wire nose piece is inserted, the blank is folded horizontally and a sonic weld in the shape of a hockey stick is installed from the nose to chin.
  • Station 4: The excess material is trimmed.

To expedite the launch of the N95 line, GM repurposed sonic welders from its Brownstown Battery Assembly plant. These sonic welders previously were used to form sub-assemblies in the Chevrolet Volt’s battery packs. For the N95 line, the equipment was updated with new templates to create the weld patterns needed for respirators.

After being trimmed to shape, the N95 masks follow the existing assembly process at Warren: ear bands are manually welded in place; completed masks are subject to a quality check; and then masks are cleaned, bagged, and prepared for shipment.

As with face masks, GM will donate some of the N95 respirators to frontline workers. To date, the Warren facility has delivered more than 4 million face masks and 230,000 face shields to frontline workers.

10M in U.S. to Lose Health Insurance from Pandemic-related Job Loss by Year’s End
By the end of 2020, 10.1 million people in the United States, many in low-paying jobs, will no longer have employer-sponsored health insurance or coverage that was tied to a job they lost due to COVID-19, according to researchers at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

“The COVID-19 recession has disproportionately affected the lowest paid workers, who are the least likely to have work-based health insurance,” says Katherine Hempstead, senior policy advisor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research. “The loss of jobs and coverage associated with the pandemic is a huge test for our safety net, but it may not be the inflection point for the employer market that many predicted.”

Projections show 3.3 million people will regain employer-sponsored insurance by being added to a family member’s policy, 2.8 million people will enroll in Medicaid, and 600,000 people will enroll in the individual market, mainly via the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, which uses premium tax credits to make coverage more affordable. Ultimately, researchers estimate, 3.5 million people will remain uninsured, making the uninsurance rate for the nonelderly 9.2 percent over states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act and to 15.6 percent in states that have not expanded eligibility.

To see the more details on the research, visit here.

COVID-19 Survivor Survey Underway
Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are collecting information with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis they hope will inform future response efforts to the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

Those participating in the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study will choose between filling out an online survey or being interviewed about their personal experiences with the illness and how the pandemic has affected their lives.

“We know that the pandemic is much more than just an illness,” says Nancy Fleischer, lead investigator and associate professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. “It has caused a massive economic shift as well, and so we’re also asking about things that happened in terms of not just the people diagnosed with COVID-19, but also their families, and if they have experienced job loss, had problems paying rent or had a harder time feeding their families.

“We are interested in understanding people’s experiences with access to testing and care, with their course of illness and other obstacles that they’ve encountered, as well as the stresses that have come about because of the pandemic such as mental health issues, access to food and housing or employment loss.”

The goal of the survey is to understand experiences of COVID-19 in Michigan focusing on health equity and to provide the state of Michigan with information so it can be better prepared for future public health crises, including future potential waves of the virus.

For more information, visit here.

Google Offer New Tech Skill Certificates and 100,000 Scholarships for Jobseekers
Google has announced three new Google career certificates in high-growth, high-paying fields, and is funding 100,000 need-based scholarships for individuals enrolled in any of these programs.

The new programs will focus on data analytics, project management, and user experience (UX) design, with no degree required to enroll, adding to Google’s IT Support Professional and Automation with Python certificates.

Google considers all of its career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles at the company. Select certificate program graduates will receive apprenticeships at Google.

“College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security,” says Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google. “We need new, accessible job-training solutions — from enhanced vocational programs to online education — to help America recover and rebuild.”

In addition to the new certificates, Google.org is awarding more than $10 million in job grants to three nonprofits — the YWCA, NPower, and JFF. In Michigan, grants to NPower in Detroit will help the local job force enroll in Google’s IT Support Certificate program.

For more information and to pre-register for the certificate programs, visit here.

Royal Oak DDA Giving $400K to Local Businesses
The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority is launching a Downtown Dollars campaign to give $400,000 to local businesses. The campaign is part of the Rebound Royal Oak Small Business Assistance program.

Royal Oak residents and downtown Royal Oak patrons will have the opportunity to receive Downtown Dollars by signing up for the Downtown Development Authority’s consumer e-newsletter, Downtown RO in the Know, which launches in July and notifies subscribers of events and activities; social media campaigns; and additional opportunities. Consumers can sign-up for the newsletter by visiting here.

The Downtown Dollars will be in the form of an electronic gift card that will be emailed to recipients to be used at participating establishments. Gift cards can be redeemed for online and curbside pickup orders or in-person.

“The funds being allocated for the Downtown Dollars campaign are part of the $2 million being utilized for the Rebound Royal Oak Small Business Assistance program, established by the Royal Oak DDA, and are actively being used to support businesses in Downtown Royal Oak,” says Sean Kammer, Royal Oak downtown manager. “As businesses are reopening, we look forward to welcoming back Royal Oak residents and visitors, as well as encouraging people who are not as familiar with Downtown Royal Oak, to choose our local shops with unique finds and long-standing restaurants that do not disappoint, for their next outing.”

In addition to the Downtown Dollars program, the Royal Oak DDA will be allocating $70,000 in rideshare services. Lyft riders who apply the code GO2RO to their Lyft account will automatically receive $10 off each ride, up to 10 rides per month, to and from the Royal Oak Downtown Development District. Valid rides can occur Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. through the duration of the program. As part of Lyft’s Health Safety program, every rider will be required to self-certify that they will wear face masks throughout the ride, are symptomatic-free and will follow CDC and local health guidelines related to COVID-19 before using Lyft.

Also, parking will be free in all Downtown Royal Oak parking structures (North Lafayette Parking, South Lafayette Parking, Center Street Garage, and the 11 Mile Road Parking Garage) for the month of July.

Mopec Board Member Joins U.S. Chamber Panel July 16
Dr. Joyce deJong, a board member of Madison Heights medical equipment and laboratory products provider Mopec will appear on a public health preparedness panel during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 9th Annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference.

The conference will take place virtually July 14-16. The public health preparedness panel will take place at 11 a.m. on July 16 via live stream.

A medical examiner with more than 20 years of experience in forensic pathology, natural disaster, and mass fatality response, deJong will speak to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the community health and disaster response to this crisis.

“I am honored to be participating in this important discussion on emergency preparedness,” says deJong. “As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and our response to it, these conversations are crucial to ensure we are prepared for future events.”

To register for the conference, visit here.

Ride 4 Recovery to Take Place Virtually Aug. 16-30
CARE for Southeastern Michigan, based in Fraser, is hosting its annual fundraising event Ride 4 Recovery, which recognizes and honors the journey of recovery from substance use, as a virtual event on Aug. 16-30.

“Our recovery services are needed more than ever during this time of social isolation and distancing,” says Susan Styf, president and CEO of CARE of Southeastern Michigan. “We want to continue to serve the community, and we needed to find a creative way to still hold our signature fundraiser. We have decided to host our eighth annual Ride 4 Recovery virtually.”

Registration is $20.00, and individual riders and teams can sign up for 40-, 25-, 10-, 5, and 1-mile rides. To increase involvement and inspire others to join the ride, organizers are asking riders riders, family, and friends to share photos from rides on social media and use the tag #ride4recovery.

For more information and to register, visit here.

JARC Drive-in Movie Fundraiser Raises Close to $400K
Nearly $400,000 was raised at Bloomfield Hills-based nonprofit JARC’s first-ever drive-in movie event to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities.

More than 75 families participated in the event that featured the films, “Despicable Me” and “Groundhog Day.”

“We want to thank our supporters and sponsors for helping to make the event so successful,” says Shaindle Braunstein, CEO of JARC. “JARC and its supporters will always be there for the people that need them no matter what is going on in the world, even a pandemic.”

For more information about JARC, visit here.

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