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 Orders Three-week Targeted Shutdown to Combat Virus Surge
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order Sunday enacting a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb COVID-19 infection rates. The order takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Under this order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time.
Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place.
Casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes will be closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however all other organized sports must stop. Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes.
The new order is not a blanket stay-home action like in the spring. It leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including manufacturing, construction, and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining, and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.
Michigan has seen fewer outbreaks associated with elementary and middle schools, and younger children are most in need of in-person instruction. In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials. Childcare also remains open to support working parents.
Restaurant Association Disagrees with New Order
Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Justin Winslow says shutting down inside restaurant service during the state-ordered three-week pause announced Sunday will cause more economic damage to Michigan’s restauranteurs.
“We recognize that there are no easy decisions right now and so we have an appreciation of the challenge before (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) Director (Robert) Gordon and all Michiganders as we continue our fight against COVID-19,” says Winslow. “That said, we are profoundly disappointed by his decision to shutter restaurants for a second time this year – this time with no safety net of federal stimulus dollars to soften the blow to already ailing operators and employees.
“While this decision will absolutely lead to a catastrophic economic fallout, the human toll on restaurant owners and their employees will be dramatically worse than what Director Gordon is attempting to mitigate through this order based upon the department’s own transmission data.”
Winslow points to MDHHS data that attributes approximately 4.4 percent of all virus outbreaks to restaurants statewide. Despite serving millions of Michiganders each day, he says, there are a total of five investigations statewide involving a restaurant patron.
MRLA survey data suggests more than 40 percent of restaurants will close, at least temporarily, if dining rooms are closed. Approximately 250,000 employees are likely to be laid off from restaurants over the holiday season. With no federal funds and an exhausted Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, it is unclear where the revenue will derive to finance the influx of claims.
If the closure is prolonged and federal stimulus dollars are not made immediately available, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will permanently close by spring. Approximately 2,000 restaurants already have closed their doors permanently in Michigan in 2020.
“We were hopeful that eight months into this pandemic that we could collectively recognize that there is an inherent and insatiable desire for humans to congregate, often over food,” says Winslow. “Shutting down dine-in service removes the ability to accommodate that natural human desire in a highly regulated, sanitized, capacity-limited, and appropriately spaced setting in a restaurant. Instead, it will drive that behavior to innumerable residential social gatherings over the holidays, which have already proven to be super-spreader environments.
“Closing the restaurant industry will again wreak havoc on the supply chain, which will have an outsized impact on Michigan’s broader economy and possibly imperil basic supplies from reaching Michiganders.”
Karmanos Cancer Institute Launches Information Portal for Clinical Trials Studies
Karmanos Cancer Institute has launched a new clinical trials study information portal on Karmanos.org to allow users to easily search, sort, and navigate through the many clinical trials available at the institute.
The SIP website, which is integrated with OnCore Clinical Trials Management System, can be used by medical professionals, researchers, and the general public to search clinical trials recruiting at Karmanos.
- Principal investigator profiles.
- Eligibility criteria from clinicaltrials.gov.
- List of studies on related-physician profiles.
- Location maps and phone numbers of study sites.
- Search fields including cancer multidisciplinary team/type, investigational device, NCT ID, and multiple search terms.
- Mobile-friendly design (Note: The Karmanos Clinical Trials Mobile App will still be available).
“The launch of the clinical trials study information portal allows us to better serve our patients and creates greater ease for our physician partners and researchers as they explore Karmanos’ clinical trial offerings,” says Dr. Gerold Bepler, president and CEO of Karmanos Cancer Institute. “We are proud to offer more than 800 clinical trials to give patients access to tomorrow’s care today. By creating an easier way to organize information about these trials, we can ensure that these treatments reach all patients who are eligible.”
State Administers $3M in Federal Grants to Help Small Businesses
The Small Business Association of Michigan is partnering with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to administer at least $3 million in federal weatherization grants to assist qualified small businesses with expanding outdoor capacity during the cold weather months.
Eligible businesses may apply to receive between $1,000 and $10,000 in funding for weatherized, temporary outdoor facilities, while eligible municipalities and local organizations may apply to receive up to $15,000.
LEO identified COVID-19 federal funding to assist Michigan businesses in their winterization efforts and the grants are provided through the federal CARES Act.
“There’s no question that these weatherization grants are going to make a real difference for Michigan’s small businesses this winter,” says Brian Calley, president of SBAM. “Fully utilizing outdoor seating and capacity has been critical to businesses across the state in their efforts to operate safely through this COVID-19 pandemic. And with winter weather diminishing that capacity, providing businesses with the assistance they need to expand and weatherize their outdoor capacity is an important way to help small businesses stay afloat but keep everyone safe this winter.”
Susan Corbin, acting director of LEO, says, “We are proud to continue to partner with SBAM to provide our small businesses with resources to protect their employees, customers and communities from the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, Michigan’s small businesses have done their part to keep our economy open by following proper safety regulations. These federal grants will help them fund temporary outdoor facilities and increase customer capacity while ensuring their workplaces are safe during our cold winter ahead.”
Commercial firms and nonprofits with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in the following industries are eligible to apply for funding:
- Restaurants and/or bars.
- Banquet centers.
- Retail stores.
- Gyms and fitness centers.
- Local governments, including cities, townships, villages, and counties that provide common space for businesses.
- Commercial property owners who provide common space for tenants.
Grant funds are available for purchases made between Aug. 1 and Dec. 30.
Interested businesses are invited to submit an application for weatherization grants here. For more information, visit here.
Qurate Tech Creates Platform to Increase Restaurant Revenue Stream
Qurate Tech, Hometalk.com, and FoodTalkDaily.com, along with a network of foodservice industry and online community partners have created a platform to connect restaurateurs and chefs with their patrons through shoppable recipes and other interactive content.
The goal is to create new revenue streams for those in the service industry that are additive by empowering those in the industry to monetize their offerings in new ways.
Opportunities for revenue come from “Share of Cart” where restaurants earn a share of items users purchase for the recipes online from participating retailers, and by having takeout options and existing restaurant/food business e-commerce sites integrated into the ordering platform.
Aerospace Group Presents Cybersecurity Webinar
The Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association in Sterling Heights is sponsoring a webinar on cybersecurity Nov. 19 from 2-3 p.m.
Participants include Jessica Pellegrino, president of Defense Cyber Solutions Inc.; Beth Cryderman-Moss, program director at the Macomb Regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center; and Vicki Selva, executive director of the Michigan Defense Center.
Registration is complimentary but required here.
Spring Arbor University Launches New Mechanical Engineering Program
Spring Arbor University (southwest of Jackson) is introducing a new Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program starting in the fall 2021 semester.
The program will join SAU’s Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering program within the university’s new School of Engineering, which welcomed its first class of students last fall.
The mechanical engineering program, offered to traditional undergraduate students on SAU’s Spring Arbor campus, is designed to help fill a growing need for engineers in the U.S. economy.
Built around NASA’s Engineering Design Process, the program will prepare students for future careers by emphasizing teamwork, theory, design, and project building. Furthermore, the standards and equipment in SAU’s engineering classrooms and labs are consistent with those found in professional settings, according to the university.
The mechanical engineering program will include flexibility for students to target specific areas of interest such as automotive and medical applications allowing students to tailor their education to their specific interests.
“Mechanical engineering continues to be one of the areas of study with the largest interest from prospective students,” says Jon Bahr, vice president of enrollment and marketing at SAU. “Adding this program to our diverse list of degree offerings is crucial in preparing students to be ‘critical participants in the contemporary world.’”
For more information, visit here.
Exploring the Future of LiDAR and Radar
The North American International Auto Show is presenting a Q’d Up Mobility webinar exploring the future of LiDAR and radar technologies on Nov. 20, from 1:30-2:10 p.m.
LiDAR and radar are the foundational technologies gathering the real-time data necessary to make autonomous vehicles operate. But there are cost, performance, and market challenges related to both technologies as well as opportunities.
The discussion will be moderated by Trevor Pawl, Michigan’s chief mobility officer. Panelists include Maha Achour, CEO and CTO of Metawave Corp., and Nikhil Naikal, vice president of software engineering at Velodyne Lidar.
Registration is not required. To access the webinar, visit here.
EMU Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies Offers Mobile Flu Shot Clinics
The Eastern Michigan University Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies in Ypsilanti is working with the state-wide Asian Community Toward Innovative Visionary Environment coalition to offer mobile flu vaccination clinics for Asian and Arab Americans — two racial and ethnic groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19 infection.
“Flu vaccinations are more important than ever before this year to minimize the transmission of influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Tsu-Yin Wu, director of CHDIS. “We are increasing flu vaccine awareness, enhancing access to vaccinations, and improving connections between health care providers and underserved Asian and Arab American communities.”
The mobile flu vaccination clinic locations and times of operation are below:
- 16, 1-4 p.m.: St. Magdalen Catholic Church, 1253 52nd St. SE in Kentwood.
- 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Wat Paknam Temple, 8500 Plumbrook Road in Sterling Heights.
- 22, Noon-4 p.m.: Gates of Columbus, 9632 Conant St. in Hamtramck.
- 30, Noon-4 p.m.: Hamtramck Community Center, 11350 Charest in Hamtramck.
- 2, Noon-4 p.m.: Hamtramck Community Center.
- 3, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Detroit Friendship House, 9540 Conant St. in Hamtramck.
- 5, Noon-4 p.m.: Gates of Columbus.
- 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Wat Paknam Temple, 8500 Plumbrook Road in Sterling Heights.
- 8, 2p.m.-4 p.m.: Detroit Friendship House.
Work and Play at the Inn at Black Star Farms
The Inn at Black Star Farms in Sutton’s Bay (north of Traverse City) is offering several new specials to guests this winter season, with an eye on safety protocols.
One is the Workcation Special, which includes a complimentary gift bag with a wireless phone charger and snack mix.
Another is the Winter Outdoor Adventure package, which provides a day of fat tire biking, snowshoeing, and warm bites along the way.
The Inn at Black Star Farms offers low off-season rates, WiFi, desks, quiet public sitting areas, gourmet breakfast, onsite trails, and more.
For more information, visit here.