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.
Salons and Barber Shops Michigan to Re-open June 10 and June 15
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced that salons and barber shops in Michigan can re-open in northern Michigan on June 10 and throughout the rest of the state on June 15.
The news is welcome to the Safe Salons for Michigan Coalition, which has been lobbying for their businesses to be allowed to operate for weeks.
“We appreciate Governor Whitmer for listening to the concerns and safety plans of the salon industry and for announcing reopening dates for the industry,” says Mike Sarafa, CEO of the Alline Group, which represents 80 salons. “Today’s announcement is the green light the industry needed to get back to serving customers and contributing to the economy in a safe and sanitary environment.”
The Safe Salons for Michigan Coalition had submitted its eight-pillar safety plan for reopening to Whitmer last month and was awaiting a response, until today. The reopening plan was worked on with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, including sanitary and procedural measures to keep employees and clients safe.
There are more than 100,000 licensed cosmetologists or barbers in the state of Michigan and until today’s announcement, Michigan was the only state that was fully closed without a reopening date.
The coalition’s comprehensive plan for safety in salons and barber shops includes:
- Daily health screenings for workers and requiring staff to stay home if sick.
- Access control for customers and guests, including staggered entry, appointment only where possible and more.
- Social distancing and installing barriers in salons and barber shops where needed.
- Enhanced sanitation and hygiene requirements throughout the salon between clients.
- Personal protective equipment worn by all workers and clients during services.
- Deep cleaning with disinfectants each day after closing.
Survey: Most Small Businesses Expect 10% Sales Decline Due to Pandemic
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 87 percent of small businesses are anticipating a sales decline of at least 10 percent, according to a new survey done last week by the Small Business Association of Michigan. The survey showed that sales and future profitability are the top concern among small businesses.
“Though the pandemic has been devastating for small business owners all across Michigan, they are incredibly resilient and have plans in place to protect customers and employees from the spread of COVID-19,” says Brian Calley, president of the SBAM. “If given the chance, small businesses are ready to return to work and serve customers safely.”
The survey, conducted between May 26 and June 2 of nearly 600 Michigan small businesses, also showed that 90 percent of businesses are confident in their ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Additionally, 75 percent of businesses say they already have their COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in place, as required by executive order to operate.
“It makes sense that loss of sales and profitability top small business owners concerns as deal with closures and reductions that were caused by the pandemic,” says Rob Fowler, CEO of SBAM. “The road ahead likely won’t be easy but we are hopeful that small businesses will be able to overcome these obstacles and survive these difficult times.”
Additional survey results revealed:
- 13 percent, or one in seven small businesses, are still not confident they will survive the pandemic.
- 81 percent of those surveyed said they are prepared for back to work activities, including having proper personal protective equipment for employees.
- 53 percent of small businesses laid off at least one employee.
- 87 percent of small businesses expect a decline in sales, while 60 percent expect a decline greater than 25 percent.
- 79 percent of survey businesses applied for the Paycheck Protection Program and only one percent reported receiving a denial from the program.
- 31 percent of small businesses surveyed still are unable to open due to the governor’s executive orders.
Oakland County Approves $1M in Business Grants
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners and County Executive David Coulter have approved $1 million for Saving Businesses/Saving Lives grants with the goal of providing impactful awards to as many companies as possible. To date the county has awarded Saving Businesses/Saving Lives grants totaling $519,000.
Previous funding rounds were successful in helping companies produce PPE equipment such as face shields and masks. This round expands its search to companies that can play a role in helping other Oakland County businesses reopen.
Examples of what the county is looking for include but are not limited to companies with processes, products, and services that manufacture, install or service:
- Barriers and partitions.
- Sanitizing services.
- Disinfectant and hand sanitizer.
- Fogging disinfectant systems for large areas.
- Portable stations (sanitizing and hand washing).
- Diagnostic tests or test kits for SARS-CoV-2.
- Temperature testing equipment.
- Touchless technologies.
- Social distancing products.
Companies must be based in Oakland County and preference will be shown to companies that manufacture/produce in Oakland County and Michigan.
The application deadline is June 26 and can be found here.
Federal Government – Food Assistance Extended Through June
Approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during the month of June as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by June 30, with payments beginning for some households on June 20. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.
Nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program.
Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits (from $194 for a one-person household to $1,164 for eight people) in June to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size. This change only applies to customers not currently receiving the maximum benefit amount. The 350,000 households that receive increased benefits represent close to 50 percent of the 729,669 of Michigan households that receive food assistance. The remaining households already receive the maximum benefit.
The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Crowdfunding is Helping More than 100 Small Businesses in Michigan
More than 100 small businesses around Michigan will utilize the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s MI Local Biz crowdfunding program throughout the month of June, according to MEDC, which will provide a total of $500,000 in matching grants to help the businesses as they work to recover from the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and this program offers innovative access to capital for those businesses currently experiencing a loss in revenue directly related to the COVID-19 crisis,” says Mark A. Burton, CEO of MEDC. “Helping our local businesses to successfully reopen lays a path for economic recovery in communities across the state, while offering patrons an opportunity to support businesses in a time of need.”
Launched in May, the MI Local Biz program builds on the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program, in which residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. MI Local Biz allows small businesses to utilize donation-based crowdfunding through Michigan-based Patronicity’s existing platform and to receive a 1:1 matching grant from MEDC of up to $5,000. Funds must be used by the businesses for working capital needs in order to maintain ongoing operations during and through the COVID-19 crisis.
Currently, there are businesses in 42 counties across the state participating in the MI Local Biz program. Campaigns are continuing to go live and will be added to the page on a regular basis.
Examples of the types of businesses that are participating include restaurants/bars/coffee shops, cafes, salons/day spas, yoga studios, historic theaters, retail shops, art galleries, recreation businesses, and many other small businesses retailing products or providing services in a face-to-face physical location within the state of Michigan.
Individuals interested in learning more and supporting businesses in their communities can visit here. The page includes a list of all the businesses running campaigns through the program, and a map showing the locations of them throughout the state.
Automation Alley Contributes to World Economic Forum COVID-19 Impact White Paper
Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center and the World Economic Forum’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub for North America, is a contributor to a new AMHUB global network white paper report about how the manufacturing industry can survive and thrive in the midst of supply chain disruptions and halts to production caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Capturing perspectives from seven worldwide regions the World Economic Forum has identified as advanced manufacturing or major industrial hubs, including Michigan, the white paper, titled “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production: Insights from the World Economic Forum’s Global Network of Advanced Manufacturing Hubs,” addresses the global impact of COVID-19, provides examples of manufacturing and government responses, and offers best practices to get economies and citizens back to health as quickly and wisely as possible.
“The World Economic Forum established the global network of AMHUBs to help small- to mid-sized manufacturers keep pace with the rapidly transforming technological advances that could disrupt their industry,” says Cynthia Hutchison, vice president of Automation Alley and a contributing author of the white paper. “The aggregate of voices in the white paper not only reports on the manufacturing impact of COVID-19 from regional angles throughout the globe, but also shares lessons learned and best practices to mitigate repercussions and improve manufacturers’ ability to be better prepared and come out stronger.”
Key findings in the report include:
- The coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call for the necessity of Industry 4.0 technologies in a global marketplace that will now require more agile and flexible production systems and supply chains.
- Manufacturers who apply a digital-first mindset to a physical business will reap the benefits of implementing Industry 4.0 technologies.
- The growing need for remote interaction may potentially accelerate adoption of 5G technology.
- The latest advances in manufacturing technology show just how far we have come and that investments do pay off. Ten years ago, disruption the magnitude of COVID-19 would have forced many to completely shut down.
To download the full report, visit here.
Henry Ford Health System has received $266,000 in funding following the “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort,” which will support relief programs in the city of Detroit, where the African American population has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Through a multi-pronged approach, Henry Ford’s Office of Community Health, Equity and Wellness will execute a rapid-response model of community outreach to address African American health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19. At Your Door: Food and More (AYD, pronounced “aid”) is a project aimed at promoting health and well-being, mitigating chronic disease, enhancing trust, and building community engagement among those with the worst COVID-19-related outcomes.
Using a strategy to minimize the amount of possible exposure and time out of the house for vulnerable populations, AYD will provide contact-free deliveries of food boxes, PPE, diapers, culturally informed education, and equipment for virtual support.
AYD builds on three of Henry Ford’s most successful community programs: Fresh Prescription; the Women-inspired Neighborhood (WIN) Network: Detroit; and Knock and Check. Along with the deliveries, participants will receive culturally relevant nutrition information and recipes, and virtual chef-led events. WIN Network, which traditionally provides in-person prenatal group visits for primarily African American women who experience high rates of maternal and infant death, will convert to virtual group prenatal sessions.
Blood pressure cuffs and doppler machines will be provided so that women can monitor their health at home, supported by certified nurse midwives. Senior citizen social isolation will be addressed through phone visits with community health workers. Lastly, team members will identify community assets and virtually convene networks of community partners as advisors, to be most responsive to future needs, including ever-changing COVID-related information.
“We are immensely grateful to BET and United Way for Southeastern Michigan for this opportunity to take three proven programs to reduce health disparities and transform their delivery for the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, senior vice president of community health and equity and chief wellness and diversity officer at Henry Ford Health System. “Further, given the times, we believe AYD will provide a culturally relevant bridge to help restore trust in systems of care.”
Those interested in helping support Henry Ford’s COVID-19 relief efforts may do so by visiting here.
In Related News: Effective today, Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest health care system, will allow family members to visit patients in its facilities with some restrictions. Among the restrictions is that non-COVID-19 patients are allowed only one visitor per day unless it is an end-of-life situation when two visitors are allowed. Beaumont’s full patient visitor policy can be found here.
West Nile Virus Activity Detected in Michigan
If COVID-19 isn’t enough to defend against, the first West Nile virus activity for Michigan in 2020 has been reported in a captive hawk from Lapeer County. Residents are reminded that the best way to protect themselves against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis, is to prevent mosquito bites.
Every summer in Michigan, bites from mosquitoes carry the risk of spreading diseases to people and animals. Last year, West Nile virus sickened 12 Michiganders, and 20 animals and birds.
“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors.”
Symptoms of arbovirus infection, like WNV, typically include a high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, and a severe headache. More serious complications include neurological illnesses such as meningitis and encephalitis.
WNV and EEE are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who contract the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. As summer temperatures rise, mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites as weather warms.
Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus may breed near people’s homes in storm drains, shallow ditches, retention ponds, and unused pools. They will come indoors to bite if window and door screens are not maintained.
Troy’s SaveOn Offers Free Microsites to Businesses Hurt By COVID-19
SaveOn, the Troy-based advertising and multimedia enterprise, is offering free microsites to restaurants and other businesses hit hardest by COVID-19.
The National Restaurant Association estimates that restaurants nationwide will take a $225 billion sales hit through May. Even with help from the federal stimulus package, restaurant owners may not be able to keep their staff employed or keep the doors open throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic has devastated so many small businesses. Some have had to close, and others are struggling to stay open,” says Heather Uballe, president of SaveOn. “We’re offering the free microsites as a lifeline to help them get back on their feet. We care about these businesses and want to do everything we can to make sure they’re around for years to come.”
The microsites, housed on SaveOn’s website, include a place to advertise coupons, company information, menus, and contact information. Businesses typically receive a microsite within SaveOn’s website for a fee. The company, however, is waiving the cost for select businesses in severe need, such as restaurants and food service companies.
“We recently launched a modern, easy-to-navigate website that thousands of people use every day to find deals and businesses,” says Uballe. “These microsites are a unique, effective way to get your name out there and increase sales. All we ask is that companies include a coupon or exclusive offer on the site for our savers.”
Businesses interested in a microsite can apply here.
New Industry 4.0 Accelerator
The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, with Automation Alley and Lean Rocket Labs, has launched what it calls the nation’s first Industry 4.0 Accelerator that will globally crowd source the best-in-class Industry 4.0 manufacturing efficiency technologies to participate and partner with Michigan-based manufacturing firms. Backed by industry partners, investors, and foundations, the program will utilize a $1.3 million fund provided by Automation Alley to support client funding and industry demo or product development partnership projects. To apply to be part of the program, visit here.
Detroit and Windsor Companies Collaborate on Stay-home Family Activities
Douglas Marketing Group, a relationship-based marketing firm with offices in Detroit and Canada, has collaborated with companies on both sides of the Detroit River to design a website that connects families and friends using resources and activities that address the “new normal” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The effort, titled “Yours for the Dreaming,” is the brainchild of DMG Founder Kay Douglas and involved input from the Children’s Foundation of Michigan, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Windsor Essex County, Windsor-based Families First, and Troy-based wealth advisor Jim Smallegan. DMG created the concept/creative strategy, aligned the partners, and built the website.
“Our team and partners in this project know the value of keeping our imaginations open for creativity and innovation,” says Douglas. “Imagination is the one place that cannot be dictated and does not have to conform to boundaries. Launching the website now recognizes the need for additional activities in the home as we end the school year and approach a summer that may have limitations physically.”
The Yours for the Dreaming website can be accessed here.
Toothbrush Donation in West Michigan
As organizations struggle to meet increased demand for charitable relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, Perrigo Co. in Grand Rapids is donating more than 160,000 toothbrushes to Camp Fire West Michigan, The StoreHouse of Community Resources, and Kids’ Food Basket.
The donation, which is valued at approximately $150,000, is intended to provide healthy oral care tools to those who have limited access to new toothbrushes or are not performing routine brushing, as a result of pandemic shopping challenges.
“Our research has shown consumers are seeking comfort in controlling what they can during this uncertain time,” says Greg McCormick, senior vice president of global innovation and technology at Perrigo Oral Care. “Consumers are doing everything they can to ensure the health and wellness of loved ones. We want to mitigate any barrier our community has to the access of clean, fresh oral care products, while supporting the organizations working with local families in need.”
As each nonprofit distributes the free toothbrushes through their various programming, Perrigo hopes the toothbrushes will encourage individual oral health during COVID-19. For optimal health, it is recommended to replace a brush head at the beginning of an illness and at the end. This will decrease the likelihood of reinfection and spread throughout a household. Perrigo also recommends having additional brush heads available at home for last minute replacements.
Gilmore Car Museum Near Kalamazoo to Re-open June 12
The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, north of Kalamazoo, will re-open to the public on Friday, June 12 following a three-month state-mandated closure as part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Guests are sure to notice several new procedures, all mandated by the state and geared toward the museum’s top priority of assuring the health and safety of its employees, volunteers, and visitors. They include:
- Face masks required for everyone inside buildings and highly encouraged within the museum’s 90-acre historic campus.
- Strict social distancing.
- Temporary postponement of all hands-on, educational actives such as free antique car rides, and the Model T Driving Experience.
- Reduced attendance capacity.
An all-new exhibit, “Legendary Packard – From Lightbulbs to Luxury Automobiles” will greet visitors. It showcases 20 of the historic brand’s finest examples, including one of the oldest known Packards and coach-built masterpieces.
For more information, visit here.