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.
Federal Government – PPP Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration on Sunday released updated numbers for the second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding as of May 1. The report shows that Michigan small businesses were the recipients of more than $5.5 billion from more than 60,000 loans.
During the course of two PPP rounds, state companies received $15.9 billion in funding via 103,811 total loans. The loans can be forgiven as long as the money goes to normal costs of doing business such as paying rent, mortgages, utilities, and payroll.
“In the Great Lakes Region, in one week, we have already surpassed our total first round PPP loan numbers by nearly 10,000, and loans continue to be processed,” says Rob Scott, Great Lakes regional administrator for SBA. “Overall, more than $88 billion in emergency capital via the PPP already has been approved to help small businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19 in the six states. We are dedicated to supporting them and are tirelessly working to ensure money is getting out to those that need it during these challenging times.”
Nationally, the SBA approved 2.2 million PPP loans in the second round, surpassing the first-round total of 1.6 million PPP loans in just one week. The average loan size in the second round is $79,000 (the first-round average loan size was $206,000). Since the PPP’s launch, the SBA has processed more than 3.8 million loans for more than half a trillion dollars of economic support in less than one month. More than 15 percent of the overall national PPP loans and dollar amounts have been approved for the six states in the SBA’s Great Lakes Region.
Federal Government – Payments to Hospitals
Thirty Michigan hospitals will receive more than $900 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Provider Relief Fund grants due to their large numbers of COVID-19 inpatient admissions through April 10.
The Michigan funds are part of a $12 billion HHS effort to help hospitals in areas hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another $10 billion is being sent to health care providers in rural areas.
“These new payments are being distributed to health care providers who have been hardest hit by the virus: $12 billion to facilities admitting large numbers of COVID-19 patients and $10 billion to providers in rural areas, who are already working on narrow margins,” says Alex Azar, secretary of HHS. “HHS has put these funds out as quickly as possible, after gathering data to ensure that they are going to the providers who need them the most. With another $75 billion recently appropriated by Congress, the Trump Administration will continue doing everything we can to support America’s heroic health care providers on the frontlines of this war on the virus.”
Recognizing the particular impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on hospitals in certain parts of the nation, and that inpatient admissions are a primary driver of costs to hospitals related to COVID-19, HHS is distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, $2 billion of which will be distributed to these hospitals based on their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.
The 395 hospitals accounted for 71 percent of COVID-19 inpatient admissions reported to HHS from nearly 6,000 hospitals around the country. The distribution uses a simple formula to determine what each hospital receives: hospitals are paid a fixed amount per COVID-19 inpatient admission, with an additional amount taking into account their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.
These hospitals will begin receiving funds via direct deposit in the coming days.
HHS is continuing to work on additional targeted distributions to some providers including skilled nursing facilities, dentists, and providers that solely take Medicaid.
Click here to see a state-by-state breakdown of grant distribution.
Federal Government – Job Training
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the availability of up to $312 million in funding aimed at creating job training and employment search services for older Americans.
Authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service and work-based job-training program for low-income, unemployed seniors administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration. SCSEP grants are awarded in a competitive process through a Funding Opportunity Announcement.
The department will award grants to organizations that provide individuals 55 and older with career services, engagement in community service activities, and work experience and job skills training that leads to greater self-sufficiency.
“The Senior Community Service Employment Program makes a difference in the lives of older Americans and communities throughout the country,” says John Pallasch, assistant secretary for employment and training. “These grants will help older Americans gain valuable job training while supporting their local communities.”
The department will make awards to approximately 10 to 22 applicants. Applicants must have a clear service delivery model that will enable eligible individuals to successfully participate in the program and achieve the goals identified in their Individual Employment Plan, which must initially include an appropriate employment goal for each participant, taking into consideration each participant’s capabilities, needs, and occupational preferences.
Successful SCSEP applicants must also have sound strategies for placing participants into unsubsidized employment, which must include effective methods for developing and maintaining strong relationships with employers, conducting job development activities, and assisting seniors in their job searches.
Applicants must be either a nonprofit organization, federal public agency, or a tribal organization that has the ability to administer a multi-state program to support projects designed to:
- Foster economic self-sufficiency and promote useful part-time work experiences in community service assignments for unemployed low-income individuals who are 55 years of age or older.
- Facilitate the placement of such individuals into unsubsidized employment in both the public and private sectors.
Click here to learn more about grant eligibility and how to apply.
State Government – Medical Supplies
Used N95 respirators now can be delivered to Battelle Labs’ decontamination device located at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit. The device can decontaminate N95 respirators for reuse up to 20 times, and the service is available, free of charge, for health systems, first responders, and nursing homes.
Michigan received its device April 23 from among the 60 decontamination devices the Federal Emergency Management Agency procured from Battelle Labs, an Ohio-based company. The device includes four decontamination units and is approved to process N95 respirators using concentrated, vapor phase hydrogen peroxide.
Battelle’s decontamination process has been granted an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has shown up to 99.99999 percent effective sterilization of N95s. Through its contract with the state, Battelle is providing staff to operate the device.
Facilities will be able to ship N95 respirators to TCF for decontamination. Once the masks are sterilized, the respirators will be shipped back.
Click here for more information.
Beaumont Hospital, Wayne plans to reopen soon to serve both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients after receiving required regulatory approvals. The campus will reopen in phases as the health system brings staff back.
“Beaumont Health has cared for more COVID-19 patients than any other health system in the state,” says Carolyn Wilson, COO of Beaumont Health. “We’ve proudly responded to the community’s needs during this pandemic and reconfigured our hospitals and redeployed staff to provide high quality and safe care. With the number of COVID-19 patients seeking care at Beaumont decreasing a bit recently, it is now appropriate to begin re-opening the Wayne campus in phases as we carefully prepare for another potential COVID-19 surge.”
Phase I includes reopening:
- The emergency center.
- Obstetrical services that were offered pre-COVID-19.
- Observation/inpatient medical surgical beds and support services (pharmacy, laboratory, food services, and environmental services).
In addition, some outpatient surgical and diagnostic services, including the infusion center, will be offered, in compliance with executive orders, to meet the time sensitive needs of patients.
Phase II will add more inpatient and critical care capacity as Beaumont reconfigures critical staffing and resource needs across the organization as COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 volumes change.
All plans are subject to change based on issues that are beyond Beaumont’s control.
Small Business Assistance
LaunchDETROIT has established an online Entrepreneur Marketplace to feature its small business owners as they struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The effort is spearheaded by Rotary International volunteers from Rotary District 6400, which covers southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario, Canada.
“The Entrepreneur Marketplace provides a personal glimpse into the lives of our entrepreneurs along with information about their products and services with links to their websites and how to contact them,” says Margaret Williamson, chair of LaunchDETROIT. “They offer a wide variety of products and services including clothing, computer and consulting services, food, hospitality, health, and wellness.”
In 2018, LaunchDETROIT expanded its program to create LaunchGLOBAL, the first group lending partnership in the United States. This pilot program was made possible by a Rotary International grant awarded to Detroit Rotarians.
Now entering its third year, the Rotary Clubs of Detroit, Taylor, and Trenton are sponsoring a program that includes free small business training provided by International Strategic Management through Wayne State University, micro loans of up to $2,500 each, business mentoring by Rotarians, and networking.
“Due to the interest we’ve received from area entrepreneurs in LaunchGLOBAL, we want to extend the opportunity for more to participate,” says Williamson, who also is chair of the Rotary initiative.
Applications are available here.
According to Williamson, there is currently no deadline to apply as they explore best ways to offer training, mentoring, and networking during the need for social distancing.
“In the meantime, we want to do all we can to support our entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneur Marketplace and utilize their services,” adds Williamson.
For more information on the Entrepreneur Marketplace, click here.
Advaita Bioinformatics, an Ann Arbor-based company spun out of Wayne State University in Detroit, says it has identified methylprednisolone, a generic FDA-approved corticosteroid typically used to treat inflammation and other common ailments, as a drug that can improve outcomes for patients critically ill with COVID-19.
The drug still needs FDA approval for widespread use on patients with COVID-19.
To confirm the drug’s efficacy, an independent study led by Dr. Mayur S. Ramesh, an infectious disease specialist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, showed that more than 200 patients given a short course of methylprednisolone responded well, with significantly reduced transfers to intensive care, requirements for ventilation, and deaths.
Using Advaita’s patented intelligent software, iPathwayGuide, researchers uncovered the necessity of modulating the body’s immune response to the virus. They analyzed data from experiments in which human lung cells were treated with SARS-CoV2 and other viruses, as well as experiments in which COVID-19 infected lungs were compared to healthy lung tissues.
Sorin Draghici, founder of Advaita and professor of computer science and associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Wayne State University College of Engineering, noted that the findings indicate that not all drugs in the same class will exhibit similar results. Other steroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, were not found to be effective against COVID-19, nor were other medications currently being investigated.
Last month, Advaita launched a crowd-sourcing initiative to involve scientists in a community effort to fight COVID-19. The group has been analyzing data sets from researchers around the globe to better understand the mechanisms of COVID-19 and try to identify existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat the disease.
A paper summarizing the Henry Ford Health System study has been submitted to a journal for peer review.
Central City Integrated Health, Authority Health, and Triumph Church have partnered to offer COVID-19 drive-thru testing by appointment only from 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 7 at the Triumph Church East Campus (2760 E. Grand Blvd.) in Detroit. The rain date is scheduled for Friday, May 8.
Drive-thru testing is at no cost to the patient. All insurances are accepted, and no one will be denied testing. A valid ID is required. Appointments can be made by calling CCIH at 1-833-360-2684 or Authority Health at 313-824-1000.
“One of the greatest challenges facing our community is the lack of coronavirus testing,” says Solomon W. Kinloch Jr., pastor of Triumph Church. “Triumph Church is humbled and grateful for the partnership that we’ve formed with Authority Health and Central City to aid in essential testing imperative to healing our community. During this imminent threat, a partnership between the faith based and medical communities is a tremendous step in utilizing an unconventional method to meet the dire need for mass testing.”
The testing site will be overseen by licensed health care providers supplied by CCIH and Authority Health and will include a team of attending physicians, residents, nurses, and nurse practitioners. To help ensure the safety of both patients and health care providers, the testing site cannot accommodate walk-ups, and patients are required to remain in their vehicles throughout the entire testing process. All patients are required to wear face coverings or masks in order to receive a test.
Testing will be accessible to the Triumph Church East Campus parking lot located between Cameron and Melrose streets. Patients will receive test results in approximately 72 hours, in addition to proper steps to take if necessary. These steps may include a 14-day quarantine, monitoring fever and respiratory symptoms, and directions for follow-up care, based on COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC and local, state, and federal authorities.
Even before the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic began, about 14 percent of Michiganders were living in poverty and another 29 percent of households were struggling to make ends meet.
That’s according to the latest Michigan Poverty and Well-Being Map released by the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, an initiative that aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research.
People living in poverty and the working poor will have an especially difficult time weathering the global pandemic, which is taking a toll on people’s economic security and health, according to H. Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions.
“Even before the pandemic spread to Michigan, there were many people struggling, and that shows up in a number of different ways on the Poverty and Well-Being Map,” says Shaefer.
“Understanding this is critically important as we think about how federal, state, and local relief efforts are rolled out. We need to make sure we are not letting residents who were already struggling slip through the cracks.”
Taking into account people living in poverty as well as working-poor households — also known as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed (ALICE) —provides a sense of how many Michiganders are struggling financially, says Jennifer Erb-Downward, a senior research associate at Poverty Solutions.
ALICE is a metric developed by United Way that counts the number of households in each county, as well as statewide, whose income puts them above the federal poverty line, and yet they still cannot afford a basic household budget.
The following Michigan counties have the highest poverty rates:
- Isabella County (mid-Michigan): 23.4 percent
- Lake County (northern Michigan): 22.3 percent
- Wayne County (southeast Michigan): 21.7 percent
- Luce County (northern Michigan): 20.7 percent
- Clare County (northern Michigan): 20.6 percent
The following Michigan counties have the highest percentage of ALICE households:
- Baraga County (northern Michigan): 43 percent
- Alger County (northern Michigan): 40.6 percent
- Luce County (northern Michigan): 40.1 percent
- Montmorency County (northern Michigan): 38.7 percent
- Lake County (northern Michigan): 38.3 percent
Another key indicator of well-being is the percentage of students who have experienced homelessness by the time they reach fifth grade — 7.6 percent of students statewide.
Erb-Downward’s research has linked child homelessness and chronic absenteeism, which hurts students’ academic performance. She anticipates the COVID-19 pandemic will leave even more families without a stable place to live.
“We have people whose bills are piling up if they’ve lost income during this public health emergency,” Erb-Downward says. “Given how many people were experiencing housing instability before this, we need to be proactive in thinking about how we can prevent a large number of evictions as soon as this crisis is over and emergency protections like the temporary statewide eviction moratorium end.”
The following counties have the highest rate of student homelessness by fifth grade:
- Oceana County (west Michigan): 27.4 percent
- Lake County (northern Michigan): 25.5 percent
- Iosco County (northern Michigan): 22.9 percent
- Alcona County (northern Michigan): 22.4 percent
- Ogemaw County (northern Michigan): 18.8 percent
- Newaygo County (west Michigan): 18.8 percent
It’s important to note there is evidence of an undercount of homeless children in Wayne County, which means the percentage of children who experience homelessness by the end of elementary school likely is much higher than the data show for southeast Michigan as a whole, Erb-Downward says. Also, these data are not available for eight counties where the number of students is too small to report.
Donations to the Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) Metro Detroit have reached the $300,000 mark in less than six weeks. The money is giving a financial boost to locally owned restaurants and providing nutritious meals to health care workers at hospitals throughout greater Detroit, including Ann Arbor, Flint, and St. Clair County.
“When we started, we didn’t expect to reach these numbers this quickly,” says Monica Toomey of Bloomfield Hills, one of the group’s six cofounders. “We just wanted to help. It would be amazing to reach $500,000 for our local restaurants.”
FLAG Metro Detroit, a nonprofit organization, was formed March 23 by a group of six local women looking for a way to help during the coronavirus pandemic. In less than six weeks, it’s become the largest of more than 100 other Front Line Appreciation Groups that have formed across the country.
“The generosity and support have been overwhelming,” says Toomey. “In trying times, the best in people always comes out. They’re helping their communities, and they’re showing their appreciation and lifting the spirits of hospital workers.”
The numbers speak to the giving spirit throughout southeast Michigan, an area that has been hard hit by the pandemic and the economic fallout:
- Donations: $300,000
- Restaurants: 50
- Meals: 30,000
- Hospitals: 40
- Facebook members: 23,000
But there is more to do, organizers say. Restaurants are still struggling, and hospital workers continue to work long hours.
“Their need is great and it’s ongoing, so we’ll keep going,” says Toomey. “We’re doing this for them; the more money that comes in, the more meals that go out.”
While donations are generally in the $10 to $20 range, several churches have come through in big ways with contributions totaling $35,000, equaling 5,000 meals.
Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills raised $19,000 through a matching campaign with its congregation. Kensington Church in Bloomfield Hills donated $11,000. Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Twp. donated $5,000.
The cost of a meal is about $7. On average, restaurants are delivering 6,000 meals to 40 hospitals each week. Restaurants can sign up here.
“We’ve built in economies of scale,” says Toomey. “We’re able to work with the restaurants to place large orders. They give us a good price on healthy, delicious meals while making the profit they need to keep their businesses going in these challenging times.”
Along with supporting restaurants and feeding hospital heroes, the organization is connecting people through its Facebook group, FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) Metro Detroit.
The Suburban Collection of Troy is matching donations up to a total of $10,000 as part of its “#Honk4FLAG” social media campaign, flagmetrodetroit.org/honk4flag.
“The Facebook group is a great way to see what’s happening, share ideas, and be involved with something positive,” says Toomey. “So instead of feeling isolated and helpless, people can lift their own spirits and be part of a group doing something to help.”
FLAG Metro Detroit has partnered with the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible. All contributions to FLAG Metro Detroit are used to purchase meals for hospital workers from locally owned restaurants. No money is used for salaries or operating costs.
To donate, click here.
In Related News: The Delta Dental Foundation of Okemos announced the second round of 23 recipients from its $500,000 COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
Funding was awarded to 23 Michigan organizations that provide food assistance. With unemployment at the highest rates since the Great Depression, food banks are overwhelmed by the rising demand for services. In some areas of the state, the need for food assistance has increased by 60 percent.
“Our food banks and food pantries are seeing much more need, while at the same time they have lost regular donations,” says Holli Seabury, executive director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “To keep their clients and staff safe, they are having to change how they distribute food, which takes more staff time and packaging.”
Along with funding, grantees will receive toothbrushes and educational materials detailing the importance of oral health in preventing COVID-19 and other illnesses. They also will receive information on how to locate a dental clinic in the event of an emergency.
For a full list of grantees, visit here.
Support for Heart Patients
The American Heart Association is asking people to #ShowUsYourGood by donating tomorrow, on #GivingTuesdayNow, to help it support the 120 million heart disease and stroke patients who may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Every dollar given up to $360,000 will be doubled thanks to a generous matching grant.
Stroke survivors, people with high blood pressure or diabetes, and those with heart disease of any age may face increased risk for serious complications if they become infected with COVID-19. Those with hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease who get COVID-19 appear to be dying at rates 2-3 times higher than the general population. And, among patients who died from COVID-19, substantial cardiac damage has been observed.
“This fast-moving COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges summed up in one word: uncertainty,” says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Millions of people are counting on us for science-based guidance, research that gets to the core of big unanswered questions, resources for the front lines, community programs, and patient support.”
Since the pandemic began, the American Heart Association has:
- Funded $2.5 million in fasted-track research to better understand COVID-19 and what it means for heart disease and stroke patients.
- Offered supplemental funding grants to the association’s new Health Technologies and Innovation Strategically Focused Research Network centers to create new technology-based solutions for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Developed interim CPR guidelines to help rescuers and first responders safely treat cardiac arrest victims with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- Made oxygenation and ventilation courses available free to health care providers who need them in the global fight against COVID-19.
- Urged lawmakers at the federal and state levels to ensure all families have access to care, including guaranteed free coronavirus testing.
“The American Heart Association is unleashing our full organizational strength to tackle this crisis head on,” says Bert Scott, chairman of the American Heart Association. “People living with heart disease and stroke are at greater risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and are rightfully concerned. We have urgent problems to solve, and that’s why we need you now more than ever.”
To donate, click here.
Cranbrook Art Online
The Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills has moved its STUDIO 2020 student art show online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, which features nearly 1,000 original works of art by Cranbrook Academy of Arts students, opens to sponsors on May 7 and the general public on May 9 at 9 a.m.
“This is the first time we’ve ever put this sale online, and we hope it encourages our friends from around the world to support our students during this uncertain time,” says Alexis Weisbrod of Cranbrook. “Students will receive direct funds from the sale of the work.”
Other experiences and items are available for auction, the proceeds of which will go toward scholarships.
Auction experiences include a “party in the penthouse” at Shinola Hotel, dinner with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, and a tour of the private art collection of Robert S. Taubman.
Auction items include original artworks by Cranbrook alumni such as Chris Schanck, Emmy Bright, Matthew Bennett Laurents, and Jacob Feige, and work by Detroit-based artist Scott Hocking, and Cranbrook Academy of Art Director Susan R. Ewing.
To preview the student art available for sale, click here.