COVID-19 Update: State Launches New Workplace Safety Website, Economy Expected to Improve but Remain Distressed, Royal Oak Small Businesses Get $1.3M, 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
Courtesy of Bridge, as of May 28

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 Government – New COVID-19 Workplace Safety Website
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has launched a new online COVID-19 workplace safety site, which provides guidance and a toolkit of resources to keep workplaces safe as sectors of the state’s economy reopen.

With the continued risk of COVID-19 spread, everyone in the workplace must take necessary precautions. The site includes MIOSHA issued guidelines, posters for employees and customers, factsheets, educational videos, and a reopening checklist, all of which is designed to help businesses safely reopen their doors.

In addition to the general workplace guidelines for employer and employees, MIOSHA provided further clarification on necessary steps several other sectors must take when reopening, including:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Offices
  • Research laboratories
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail
  • Outpatient health care

The site also provides guidance on how employers create and make available to employees and customers, a written exposure control plan, which includes exposure determination and outlines measures that will be taken to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19, including as appropriate:

  • Engineering controls
  • Administrative controls
  • Hand hygiene and environmental surface disinfection
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Health surveillance
  • Training
  • Incorporating the latest guidance for COVID-19 from the CDC, OSHA, and the state

U-M Study: Economy Expected to Improve but Remain Distressed
Following April’s record one-month decline, consumer confidence inched upward in May by an insignificant amount, according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

The Sentiment Index fell 27.7 percent below last May’s level, with the falloff in evaluations of current conditions and future prospects posting declines of 25 percent to 30 percent. The CARES Act relief checks and higher unemployment payments have helped to stem economic hardship, but those programs have not acted to stimulate discretionary spending due to uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic, says U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys.

The impact of steep price discounting and low interest rates have helped to improve buying plans but have been offset by continued high levels of job and income uncertainty, he says.

“Consumers were more positive in May about several aspects of the economy. After the record economic plunge and staggering surge in unemployment, it is not surprising that consumers expected both to improve,” Curtin says. “Consumers quickly added that the economy and labor markets would remain distressed, but would notch some gains in late 2020 and early 2021.

“This reaction has occurred near the end of every recession since World War II. Second, the May gain does not signal a cyclical low since the pandemic is hardly over and still represents the dominant risk. Moreover, the recession’s severity means that many jobs and firms will never reemerge.”

According to the results of the survey, a majority of consumers expected the economy to improve from its recent standstill, and a majority of consumers still thought that overall conditions in the economy would remain unfavorable despite those small gains.

Expectations for renewed economic growth always have dominated at the ends of recessions and more favorable assessments of the current state of the economy near the ends of expansions, Curtin says. An even larger gap between growth prospects and current conditions likely will result when the dismal second-quarter GDP news is released, he says.

To review the full survey results, visit here.

Ascension Michigan is anticipating resuming elective surgical procedures and other vital health care services at its sites of care using a phased and thoughtful approach with a focus on health and safety, starting today. All efforts are in alignment with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-96.

Ascension Michigan hospitals and outpatient facilities will begin scheduled surgeries and procedures, prioritizing those that are most urgent, while simultaneously ensuring continued capability and safety to provide care for patients with COVID-19.

“Ascension Michigan looks forward to safely providing additional non-emergent surgical and medical procedures as appropriate across all of our facilities, while continuing our current safety practices and following all CDC guidelines,” says Dr. Ken Berkovitz, SVP, Ascension and ministry market executive for Ascension Michigan. “Our approach for returning to scheduled surgeries is clinically led, working with our physicians, clinicians, and facility experts on a strategy that will keep our patients, associates, and physicians safe.”

Time-sensitive surgical and medical procedures needed to protect and preserve the health safety and welfare of Ascension Michigan patients have been ongoing in compliance with the governor’s Executive Order 2020-17.​

Starting today, Ascension Michigan will begin scheduling additional surgeries, prioritizing urgent procedures that cannot be further delayed due to adverse health care risks. Seven days prior to surgery, patients will be asked to quarantine, per CDC guidelines, and follow social distancing measures. All patients with a scheduled surgery will be COVID-19 lab tested 48 hours prior, in addition to being screened the day of surgery.

Additionally, Ascension Michigan will continue a number of safety measures already in place, including advanced telehealth capabilities for virtual care, universal masking, hospital visitor restrictions, social distancing, and screening of all persons entering our facilities, including temperature checks. Ascension Michigan will continue the ongoing extensive sanitization and cleaning of our facilities, including all surgical areas, and each hospital will have a designated space for surgical patients. Measures also are in place to ensure we maintain adequate personal protective equipment inventory levels across the system health.

“​We remain focused on surge readiness and providing c​ontinued COVID-19 care while we safely return to serving the community’s broader medically necessary healthcare needs​,” says Dr. Charles Husson, chief medical officer at Ascension Michigan. “​We know this is a fluid situation, and we are prepared to be flexible and responsive to rapidly evolving conditions in our community and our sites of care.

“Our collective efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are working, but the pandemic is not yet over,” says Husson. “As we look ahead, we ask not only our staff, but our community to remain vigilant in masking, practicing social distancing and continuing to follow local orders to stop the spread of the virus.”

In Related News: MedNetOne Health Solutions, a Rochester-based health care management organization, has created a return to work best-practices playbook for medical offices with foundational elements not only from traditional sources like the American Medical Association and the CDC, but also from the auto industry.

Beyond handwashing and wearing the appropriate PPE, the MedNetOne playbook includes:

  • Checklist for re-opening a medical practice
  • Training requirements for all the members of the practice team, including the physician
  • Maintaining a minimum 30-day supply of PPE
  • Maintaining a 30-day inventory of hand soap, hand sanitizer, and janitorial supplies, including bleach and surface disinfectants
  • Guidelines on staff breaks and lunchroom practices to ensure physical distancing
  • Temperature taking of staff prior to beginning a workday
  • “The majority of our members have modern practices with electronic health record systems and HIPAA-compliant virtual consult capabilities, but moving forward, such technologies may be mandatory for MedNetOne membership,” Matuszewski said. “So will the use of care team members for practices with more than two physicians. Seemingly overnight, the doctor’s office has gotten significantly more complex and we need to be prepared.”

MedNetOne CEO Ewa Matuszewski says a major change to her organization’s membership requirements will be mandatory adherence to the playbook and any other best practice regulations that are instituted for patient and staff safety and third-party payor reimbursement, which is likely to expand payment of new or enhanced services as it did with virtual consults.

MedNetOne requires the adoption of patient and office safety measures immediately upon re-opening, and other mandatory changes will be phased in over the course of the next year. The organization will use its care team members to perform practice audits and questionnaires for both the clinical providers and office staff to ensure compliance.

In addition to a re-opening playbook, Matuszewski says practices also need a business recovery plan, and ongoing, planned training and education of the practice team.

“While we still need the old school touch of a physician, the new normal demands business acumen, modern tools, multi-disciplinary teams, adding the cleaning company as a new member of the practice team and incorporation of measures that identify and respond to the social determinants of health,” Matuszewski says. “Payors will be looking for these enhancements – and such actions will prepare us for future pandemics as well.”

Cleaning System Can Help Businesses Restart Safely
East Landing’s Republic Healthcare today announced that it has introduced its MicroBIOstatic cleaning system, which can not only kill viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 and eliminate them from work and high-touch surfaces, but also provide protection from microbes for up to 90 days.

The MicroBIOstatic Clean surface protectants utilize hospital-grade sanitizers, along with proprietary nanotechnology-applied antimicrobial technology, to provide 24/7 protection for up to 90 days with a single application.

This technology creates a continuous bed of nano-spikes that are positively charged to attract microbes and then pierce the cell membrane like a balloon landing on a tack when the bacteria comes into contact with the protective layer. This is a mechanical process rather than a chemical process, allowing the protection to increase from minutes to months.

The system is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, registered with the EPA and is non-hazardous for all surfaces including food prep surfaces. Republic Healthcare is committed to helping business of all sizes restart safely and offer for a free consultation and to review product and application pricing.

“We want to help businesses restart safely,” says David McAndrews, one of the principals at Republic Healthcare. “Employees need to feel safe going in to work and customers must have confidence to enter into business.

“We see our line of MicroBIOstatic products as a way for owners to protect people and their places of business to rebuild confidence. We’re working with large enterprises with their own sanitation crews by providing them with MicroBIOstatic materials, and smaller business for whom we are providing application services. This is an important element in our Reopen for Business Program.”

For more information, visit here.

Foster Families Still Needed During Pandemic
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) wants to raise awareness of the need to provide temporary foster homes for children during May, which is Foster Care Awareness Month. The department also wants to inform prospective foster parents about actions that are being taken to protect them and the children who are in foster care from COVID-19.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, many Michigan families continue to provide safe and loving homes to Michigan children in foster care,” says JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Foster families from around the state have shown tremendous grace and flexibility during these uncertain times. MDHHS provides resources to families to keep them together whenever possible, but placement in foster care may be necessary when a child is not safe at home.”

While MDHHS is thankful for the families who are already caring for youth in foster care, there is always a need for more families to open their hearts and homes to fostering, even during the pandemic.

Michigan has approximately 12,500 children in foster care. Children of all ages who have been victims of abuse and neglect need temporary foster homes to care for them until they can be safely reunified with their parents or – in a smaller number of cases – until they can find adoptive homes if it’s not safe for them to return home.

During the pandemic, MDHHS is informing prospective foster parents of a child’s health status prior to placement. The department also is asking health screening questions of all household members in a foster family before placement. MDHHS has changed policies to temporarily decrease in-person contact and put practices in place to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

The first step to becoming a foster parent is contacting a foster care navigator.

Navigators are experienced foster parents who can answer questions, help individuals find an agency that’s right for them, and provide guidance along their journey to becoming a foster parent. They can be reached at 855-MICHKIDS.

To learn more about foster care, visit here.

Royal Oak Small Businesses Get $1.3M Through Assistance Program
The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority will be awarding $1.3 million to 92 restaurants, retailers, salons, cafes, and entertainment venues in downtown Royal Oak through the Rebound Royal Oak Small Business Assistance Program.

This grant program was established to help eligible businesses, with no more than 50 employees, in the Downtown Development District impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The disbursement of the grant funds and the methodology for awarding the funds was approved at the DDA Board of Directors meeting on May 27.

“Downtown Royal Oak is continuing to evolve into the future, and in order to do that, during this global crisis, we want to ensure that all new and long-standing establishments here are successful and receive all possible support,” says Sean Kammer, downtown manager for Royal Oak. “These businesses are people’s livelihoods, and we are focused on doing everything we can to help them get through these challenging times.”

All eligible applicants that applied, 92 in total, will receive a grant, with amounts ranging from $4,000 to $32,000.

The grant funds will be disbursed to awardees in two to three payments. Businesses currently permitted to operate will immediately receive 50 percent of their grant award. Businesses currently closed will immediately receive 25 percent of their grant award, and an additional 25 percent when they are permitted to open. Businesses can expect to receive their first installment the week of June 15. The second or third payment will be disbursed within four to six weeks after that. Awardees will be required to use the grant for business-related expenses, including payroll, rent, or other relevant activities.

In total, the Downtown Development Authority received 109 applications. Seventeen small businesses were disqualified because they did not fall within the Downtown Development District or were not an eligible business type. Eligible businesses included restaurants, cafes, retailers, salons, and entertainment venues.

Belle Isle’s Scott Fountain to Flow this Weekend
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix for 2020, the event will continue to make a positive impact in its community with several special activities planned for this weekend.

The Grand Prix worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, DTE Energy, and its longtime engineer Robert Carpenter to get the Scott Fountain in Belle Isle operating today for the first time in 2020, at least six weeks earlier than planned.

“We are so excited to see the beautiful and historic Scott Fountain come to life on Friday,” says Bud Denker, chairman of the Grand Prix. “This would have been a great weekend in Detroit to host the Grand Prix and celebrate the fountain’s 95th birthday but it wasn’t meant to be.

“We were determined to keep the tradition of the fountain flowing for the first time each summer at the Grand Prix alive, however,” Denker says. “Thanks to the hard work of Robert Carpenter and the cooperation of our partners at DTE and the Michigan DNR, we have been able to make it happen. Scott Fountain will be flowing on Friday and we believe that will be a great symbol for how our city and Belle Isle is ready to come back after all we have been though over the last few months. We are also planning some other special activities with our fans to honor what would have been Grand Prix weekend.”

Over the course of the weekend, the Grand Prix is also hosting a virtual Detroit Grand Prix on social media for charity. The event has invited some special guests to post a video narration of their two fantasy laps at the Detroit Grand Prix and the videos will be shared on Twitter over the course of the weekend. Each time the video posts are tweeted and retweeted using the hashtags #My2Laps at #DetroitGP, the Grand Prix will donate $10 to the Belle Isle Conservancy for improvement projects on Belle Isle with a total contribution of up to $5,000. Everyone is encouraged to share their video fantasy lap narration on Twitter to maximize this donation.

In addition, the NTT IndyCar Series will feature stories, photos and videos featuring the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix throughout the weekend on its social media channels as well as on its official website,

Shinola Launches Watch to Benefit Health Care Workers
Detroit’s Shinola was ready to launch its Champ Detrola time piece in conjunction with the opening of the Olympics but with the cancellation of that event due to the global COVID-19 pandemic the company decided to dedicate the watch to local health care workers.

In conjunction with the launch of The Champ, Shinola will be donating $197,500 to the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) – specifically to their efforts supporting the health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are grateful to Shinola for the opportunity to help those working in health care during this crisis,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation. “Health care workers put themselves in the path of the coronavirus and kept us safe. We applaud their bravery.”

The Champ will be available to pre-purchase beginning today on, with a target delivery in late-July. This is pending the reopening of the company’s watch factory.

The watch, priced at $395 and limited t0 500 units, features a multi-colored matte dial with a striped pattern of red, gold, bright blue, bright green, and black as well as the Shinola Detroit and Detrola collection logos. The cream colored 43mm case crafted from TR90 resin is anchored by a stainless-steel core and Argonite 705 movement hand-assembled in Detroit. The dial is protected by double-domed K1 crystal.

Birmingham-based urban planner Bob Gibbs is hosting a webinar titled “Retail Best Practices in the Post Pandemic-mall Era” on Wednesday, June 3 at 11 a.m.

The session will explore the new opportunities for downtown shopping districts to offer the goods and services desired and needed by families, millennials, and empty nesters. Best practices for branding, experiential shopping, merchandising, and store planning will be illustrated with case studies calibrated for the Birmingham-Bloomfield area also will be discussed.

To register for the webinar, visit here.

Pistons Coach Dwane Casey Partners with Focus: HOPE
Detroit Pistons Head Coach Dwane Casey and his family have provided a donation to Detroit nonprofit Focus: HOPE in support of its Food for Seniors and Early Learning programs directly supporting those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will provide groceries for seniors and families with small children.

Earlier this month, Casey, along with Pistons legend Dave Bing joined Focus: HOPE volunteers in delivering food packages around the city of Detroit.

“My family and I were thrilled when Dave Bing introduced us to the team at Focus: HOPE,” says Casey. “We are happy to help those enduring food insecurities during these difficult times. As a family we pray every day for those being impacted by this pandemic and we feel blessed to be able to reinforce our prayers with action. We have been inspired by the many acts of generosity that we have witnessed here in Detroit and we hope everyone will continue to pay it forward in any way they can.”

The Focus: HOPE Food for Seniors program works in partnership with federal and state agencies to provide more than 41,000 low income seniors with monthly food packages to help them meet basic needs. The Casey family’s support will allow Focus: HOPE to provide homebound seniors with fresh produce and other perishable foods to supplement their monthly USDA supplemental food boxes.

For more information, visit here.

Forgotten Harvest Thanks General Motors
Since the COVID-19 crisis hit the community in early March, supporters of Detroit nonprofit Forgotten Harvest have been providing financial support, resources, food, and supplies that enable it to help the community.

The organization says it will take all of the generosity it has received to date and more to ensure the community receives the food it needs to thrive in the face of this threat.

Forgotten Harvest is issuing thank you to its long-time partner, General Motors Co., which recently provided $200,000 to help the nonprofit’s efforts in feeding children, families, and seniors in metro Detroit.

“With General Motors’ critical support, we will diligently continue to serve the community during this crisis”, states. Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest “General Motors has been a truly incredible partner for many years, providing employee volunteers and financial support to our mission so that we can take care of our community and fulfill a most important basic need – nutritious food.”

During this coronavirus pandemic, Forgotten Harvest is working at a dramatically increased capacity to serve the additional needs of the community.

“General Motors is proud to partner with Forgotten Harvest to help fight hunger and expand the organization’s food distribution across metro Detroit,” says Terry Rhadigan, executive director or corporate giving at GM. “And we know donations to Forgotten Harvest go a long way – every $1 enables Forgotten Harvest to provide $7 worth of groceries, or enough for food to feed a family of four. That’s a mission we can all stand behind.”

ACG Detroit Commits $20,000 to Local COVID-19 Relief
ACG Detroit, a nonprofit business organization, has made a donation of $20,000 to local nonprofits on behalf of the organization’s entire membership.

The donation has been split equally between Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners Community Food Bank, COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter), and Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program.

“As we all continue to grapple with the new normal we are all facing, the needs of our community are more prevalent now than ever,” says Andrew MacLeod, president of ACG Detroit. “There are countless organizations, individuals, and families that are in need of financial assistance during this time. Our board has identified a handful of charities which we have had a standing relationship with and which provide valuable services to our neighbors in need. We are proud to have the opportunity to contribute a monetary donation to these groups and help further their missions of improving our communities.”

New School Wellness Program
Michigan K-12 schools are invited to apply for a program that provides students, teachers, and administrators with the necessary tools to create a healthier school environment for the 2020-2021 school year.

From now until Monday, Sept. 30, schools can apply for Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness, one of three options under the Building Healthy Communities program.

The new program is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension, and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

To apply for the program, visit here.

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