COVID-19 Update: State Issues Guidance to Help Keep Workplaces Safe, Michigan Labor Department Secures $28M Federal Education Grant, 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 coronavirus cases in Michigan by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Nov. 5

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 Issues Guidance to Help Keep Workplaces Safe
As COVID-19 infection numbers reach record levels in Michigan, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has released recommendations for employers on how to keep workplaces safe.

Officials say the state currently is experiencing 261 cases per million people per day, more than double last month’s figures. Percent positivity has increased to 7.5 percent from 5.5 percent a week ago. Hospitalizations, which tend to appear two to four weeks after cases, have been rising over the past five weeks.

Currently, there are 28 documented COVID-19 outbreaks in an office setting and the number of new outbreaks reported continue to increase weekly. Office settings make up 5 percent of all documented outbreaks, and 7 percent of new outbreaks identified in the last week. Additionally, 8.3 percent of current outbreaks are in manufacturing and construction and 33 percent of those were first identified in the last week.

“Given the available data and concerning increase in COVID-19 cases, employers have a crucial role to play in ensuring employees who must come to work are operating in a safe environment,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. “Employers should adopt practices to make workplaces as safe as possible and work should be completed remotely unless it is strictly necessary for an employee to be in person to complete their job duties.”

Consistent with emergency rules enacted by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on Oct. 14, if any in-person work is being conducted, employers should be sure to take the following steps to protect the health of their employees:

Create a COVID preparedness plan – Employers should develop and implement a written plan to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19. This should include exposure determination and detail the measures the employer will implement to reduce employee exposure.

Establish clear workplace procedures – Employers should identify a workplace COVID-19 coordinator, mandate face coverings, ensure appropriate access to personal protective equipment where necessary and train employees on new procedures, such as how to facilitate physical distancing.

Conduct daily self-screening of staff working in person – Employers should conduct daily health evaluations that include assessment for the symptoms of COVID-19 and exclude from in-person work any symptomatic staff.

Strengthen workplace cleaning and disinfection procedures – Employers should take every opportunity to clean and disinfect facilities as frequently as possible, and enhanced cleaning should be performed if a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

Collaborate with local health departments – If employees contract COVID-19, local health departments will conduct contact tracing. Employees should work closely with their local health departments to ensure that all potentially affected employees are made aware of their exposure.

Employers should allow their employees to work from home, if possible, to minimize the presence of individuals gathered in work settings where COVID-19 may spread. Employers should only permit in-person work if a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks from a remote setting, such as food service or auto assembly workers, or a job involving protected data that cannot be accessed remotely.

A full list of employee and workplace safety resources is available here.

Michigan Labor Department Secures $28M Federal Education Grant
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has been awarded $28 million – $4 million per year over the next seven years – by the U.S. Department of Education for the Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs efforts aimed at increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

“The continuation of MI GEAR UP is another tool that allows us to help prepare more Michiganders on their pathway to rewarding careers and bigger paychecks,” says Susan Corbin, acting director of LEO. “It’s also another tool that helps us achieve the state’s Sixty by 30 goal, ensuring 60 percent of working-age Michiganders have a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030 so that our great state is well-positioned for long-term economic growth.”

MI GEAR UP increases students’ awareness of the prerequisites to enter into a postsecondary education by providing college exposure, information on financial aid and admissions, and helping to build the critical thinking, test taking and study skills necessary to be successful as they continue their education.

To date, the program has served more than 29,000 students, of which 88 percent obtained a high school diploma and 62 percent enrolled in postsecondary institutions.

“Through MI GEAR UP, we partner with Michigan’s 15 public universities and other key community partners to provide early intervention services and a scholarship component to help students succeed,” says Stephanie Beckhorn, employment and training director of LEO. “Throughout the process, we serve a cohort of students, beginning in the seventh grade and follow them through the first two years of college.”

LEO’s Office of Employment and Training will continue to implement and administer MI GEAR UP. The 15 participating public universities will work statewide with economically disadvantaged students in 51 of Michigan’s school districts for this program. The student population within these districts will have at least 50 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

Holiday Magic at The Village of Rochester Hills Begins Nov. 20
The Village of Rochester Hills will be glowing with more than 350,000 lights that would measure more than 33 linear miles in strands of lights when holiday festivities start at the shopping center Nov. 20.

There will be horse and carriage rides, reindeer, elves, live musical performances, and a convenient online reservation system that allows for scheduled time slots to enjoy a socially distanced visit with Santa. All holiday festivities will be free and open to the public. The online Santa reservations system, sponsored by Cornerstone Community Financial (CCF), will be available to book appointments beginning today here.

As a precaution, The Village of Rochester Hills will not be hosting its annual Light the Village ceremony, which historically takes place every year the Friday before Thanksgiving.

All holiday festivities are free and open to the public. For a complete list of dates and times for scheduled holiday activities, visit here.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Offers Home Football Tailgating Packs
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, with locations in Sterling Heights and Livonia, is bringing the football tailgating experience from the stadium to the living room with the introduction of the new Brewhouse Homegating Pack.

The Brewhouse Homegating Pack is designed to allow fans to recreate a tailgate in the comfort of their own homes by offering gameday favorites such as wings, pizza, BJ’s handcrafted signature beers, and more. The package includes: one large deep-dish pizza; choice of one family-sized chips and dip; choice of two sharable appetizers; and choice of a 64-ounce BJ’s handcrafted signature beer growler or nonalcoholic beverage for $64.95. Appetizer choices include: boneless wings; bone-in wings; chicken tenders; BBQ tri-tip sliders; beef sliders; or a full rack of baby back ribs for an additional $2 charge.

“In a year when so much has changed, nothing screams normal like watching football and enjoying cold beer, pizza and wings,” says Kevin Mayer, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of BJ’s Restaurants. “We hope to bring back some of the connection and camaraderie that has been lost without in-person games. Tailgating might look different this year, but there is still an opportunity to make new memories with our Brewhouse Homegating Packs while cheering on their favorite team.”

The Brewhouse Homegating Pack is available every day of the week for take-out or delivery. Fans can place their orders here or through the BJ’s app.

Beyond Basics Staging Annual Coat Drive
Beyond Basics, the Southfield-based student and family-centered, literacy-focused nonprofit, is staging its Annual Coat Drive through Dec. 9.

New and gently used coats in sizes youth 5 through adult 4X can be dropped off at Beyond Basics office at 18000 W. Nine Mile Rd., Suite 450, in Southfield. If needed, the organization can pick up donations. Call 248-701-5627 to arrange a pickup.

To make a monetary donation, visit here.