COVID-19 Update: State Encourages Schools to Safely Open by March 1, Beaumont Health Triples Server Capacity to Meet Demand for COVID-19 Vaccine, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Jan. 9

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.

State Encourages Schools to Safely Open by March 1
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued new guidance for schools to keep students, staff, and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of all Michigan school districts offer an in-person learning option for students no later than March 1.

The guidance emphasizes use of scientifically proven methods of reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, include wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.

Vaccination of teachers and other school staff will begin today due to educators’ roles as essential frontline workers.

The guidance covers grades pre-kindergarten through 12 and includes early childhood education, such as Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program.

Wearing masks is especially important for controlling COVID-19 transmission and masks should be worn inside schools by all staff and students, except during meals and in other limited circumstances, according to the guidance. Face masks may be made of cloth or may be disposable surgical-style masks.

Other infection control measures in the new MDHHS guidance include:

  • When feasible, assigning children to cohort groups and limiting their interactions to their cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.
  • Keeping children 6 feet apart from one another to the extent feasible, making creative use of school spaces to facilitate distancing.
  • Providing adequate hand sanitizing supplies and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques.
  • Improving air ventilation.
  • Having staff and students conduct self-screenings for symptoms at home every day before going to school.
  • Ensuring school plans are in place in coordination with their local health department if there are any positive COVID-19 tests.
  • Having staff and students who either test positive or are close contacts of those who test positive follow the guidance issued by MDHHS as well as local health departments. Anyone who is considered a close contact of someone who tests positive but does not have symptoms should quarantine for 10 days under CDC guidance.
  • Additional recommendations can be found in the State of Michigan Guidelines for Operating Schools Safely on Michigan’s Schools COVID Testing website.

Beaumont Health Triples Server Capacity to Meet Demand for COVID-19 Vaccine
Beaumont Health more than tripled server capacity this weekend after experiencing overwhelming demand regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Thousands of patients attempted to sign up for a myBeaumontChart account on Friday after Beaumont announced it would soon begin vaccinating people age 65 and older.

“In the health care information technology space, having thousands of patients trying to register at once is unprecedented and our servers were maxed out,” says Hans Keil, chief information officer at Beaumont Health. “It’s similar to what happens when people try to purchase concert tickets as soon as they go on sale and everyone cannot get through at the same time. I’m proud we more than tripled our capacity so quickly. We are rapidly working to add even more.”

On a typical day, Beaumont processes approximately 900 new myBeaumontChart accounts. On Friday, nearly 9,000 patients activated their accounts, but thousands of others could not access the website. At one point, more than 25,000 users simultaneously attempted to register for myBeaumontChart.

Almost 1 million Beaumont patients have myBeaumontChart, a secure online health portal that connects people with their health records, medical test information and appointments. Over the next few months, Beaumont will email personal invitations to patients via myBeaumontChart to schedule an appointment when they become eligible for the vaccine based on the state’s criteria and as doses become available.

“We are thrilled to see this kind of interest in the vaccine,” says Keil. “Our staff will continue to monitor our systems and expand capacity as needed. The vaccine is our ticket out of this pandemic, and our Beaumont team will do whatever we can to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Right now, Beaumont can vaccinate more than 3,200 people per day at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield and the health system plans to expand to additional sites soon.

A detailed, regularly updated, website with Frequently Asked Questions about the vaccine is available here.

Chicago Fed Announces Detroit Branch Board Updates
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has announced the re-appointment of the Detroit Branch chair, the re-appointment of three Detroit Branch directors, and actions regarding other local officials.

Joseph B. Anderson Jr., chairman and CEO of TAG Holdings in Wixom, Michigan was re-appointed by the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to serve a one-year term as the chair of the Detroit Branch Board of Directors for 2021. Anderson also was re-appointed to serve the first year of a three-year term concluding in his sixth and final year of service.

Other re-appointed Detroit Branch board members who have been re-appointed include:

  • Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, to serve a second three-year term.
  • Sandra E. Pierce, senior executive vice president, private client group and regional banking director, and chair of Michigan for Huntington Bank in Southfield to serve the first year of a three-year term concluding in her sixth and final year of service.

Dave Habiger, president and CEO of J.D. Power in Troy, was re-elected as a Class B (non-banker) director to serve a three-year term, after serving one year of an unexpired term. He was elected by Group 3 banks, which have a capital and surplus level of less than $16.6 million.

Jeffrey J. Brown, CEO of Ally Financial Inc. in Detroit, was re-appointed by the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to serve a one-year term as the Federal Advisory Council representative for the Seventh Federal Reserve District.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the nation’s central bank. The Chicago Reserve Bank serves the Seventh Federal Reserve District, which encompasses the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana, southern Wisconsin, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and the state of Iowa. In addition to participation in the formulation of monetary policy, each Reserve Bank supervises member banks and bank holding companies, provides financial services to depository institutions and the U.S. government, and monitors economic conditions in its District.

Ford Debuts ‘Raised by Goats’ Bronco Commercial
Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn debuted a new Bronco commercial during the Rams-Seahawks NFL Playoffs Wild Card game on Saturday featuring goats that “teach” the new SUV to navigate the craggy terrain and rough waters.

According to the 60-second spot, a herd of goats came upon a colt in the mountains trapped under a rock. They rescue him, then raise him as their own, and the horse transforms into the all-new Ford Bronco Sport.

“Raised by Goats” is the first of three campaign spots produced by Wieden+Kennedy New York to specifically highlight Bronco’s its G.O.A.T. Modes, equipped with up to seven terrain management modes helping drivers “go over any type of terrain.”

The first two ads focus on the capability and power of the Bronco Sport. The third piece of the campaign, debuting in February, focuses on the versatility and customization options available for the Bronco Sport.

“The Bronco Sport is ready to introduce even more outdoor enthusiasts to the wild,” says Matt VanDyke, director of U.S. marketing at Ford. “This campaign kicks off with a fun, mythical story of how the Sport — the Bronco of small SUVs — developed its impressive off-road capability.”

Shot in Washington state on Mt. Baker, a volcano in North Cascades National Park, the production came with its own set of challenges — namely, casting and training the proper goats and horses for the piece.

“We decided early on that we wanted to make this true to nature, using real animals in an authentic environment,” says Stuart Jennings, creative director, Wieden+Kennedy New York. “So, we were doing a lot of work even before the cameras were rolling, researching breeds of goats, hiring animal trainers, talking through the performances and developing our visual script.”

Extra time was built into the shoot to consider the needs of the animals, he emphasized. Horses can be trained somewhat easily, but goats are another story.

“Goats are highly intelligent, but they’re stubborn,” says Jennings. “Sometimes, they just don’t want to listen. If they want to eat grass, they’ll eat grass. We just had to wait sometimes and cheer them on to do their performance.”

Comerica Donates Nearly $240K to Finish 2020 with $4.3M in Community Support
Comerica Bank and Comerica Charitable Foundation announced contributions of nearly $240,000 to 11 nonprofit organizations to support food security, education initiatives, health and human services, and COVID-19 relief outreach in Michigan. These contributions bring total 2020 funding, contributions, and community investments in Michigan to $4.3 million.

“Comerica recognizes the impact the pandemic has had on our communities — from food security to education,” says Mike Ritchie, Michigan market president at Comerica Bank. “Our support aims to aid in Michigan’s recovery by supporting essential resource programs right here in our neighborhoods. The stability of our communities is vital as we look towards the future, and Comerica will continue its state-wide support until recovery is achieved.”

This latest round of funding was directly provided to nine in-state community partners and two national philanthropic organizations impacting individuals in Michigan, including:

  • All Saints Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry
  • Alternatives for Girls
  • Beyond Basics
  • Citadel Community Development Corp.
  • Cass Community Social Services
  • Covenant House
  • Kids’ Food Basket in Grand Rapids
  • Pope Francis Center
  • The Master’s Commission at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit
  • National College Resource Foundation
  • National CARES Mentoring Movement

“Investing in our community partners by supporting such efforts as COVID relief, education, food security, and health and human services is crucial as our communities continue to struggle,” says Linda Nosegbe, southeast Michigan external affairs manager at Comerica Bank. “These partnerships become vital in sustaining programs and outreach efforts that positively impact the lives of individuals and families.”

Little Caesars Hiring in All Metro Detroit Stores Jan. 13
Little Caesars is hosting a job fair to fill new full-time and part-time positions at all of its metro Detroit stores on Jan. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Each employee hired during the job fair will receive one free pizza per week for a year while employed by Little Caesars.

Available jobs include full-time managers and co-managers as well as part-time crew members and assistant managers. Interested applicants will have the chance to interview and be considered for on-the-spot hiring. Qualified candidates must have identification and fill out an I-9 form to be hired on-the-spot.

Those interested are encouraged to fill out applications in advance by visiting here, selecting “Store Jobs” under the “Careers” section at the bottom of the page. Once a store location is selected, applicants will be directed to either fill out an online application or print one and bring to bring to the job fair. Those who are unable to apply in advance must inquire at a store.

Little Caesars stores follow cleanliness and sanitization guidelines based on advice from federal, state and local health and safety officials. Applicants must wear masks and socially distance.

A second job fair in all metro Detroit stores will take place on Jan. 20.