COVID-19 Update: U.S. Economy Surging with Upbeat June Jobs Report, State Distributes $880M in Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds, 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.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of July 1

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.

U.S. Economy Improving with Upbeat June Jobs Report
U.S. employers added 4.8 million jobs and the national unemployment rate has dropped to 11.1 percent, according to figures released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This was the biggest increase in jobs in the history of the report, going back to 1939, surpassing May’s increase of 2.699 million (revised higher from 2.509 million). Private-sector employment rose by 4.78 million, while government employment rose by 33,000.

“Employment has bounced back as states have allowed more economic activity but is still far below its all-time high in February,” says Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Bank in Troy. “After the short but very intense viral recession in the spring, a recovery is now underway.”

There were combined job losses of 22.2 million in March and April, but now the economy has recovered one-third of those. Still, employment is down by 14.7 million, or 9.6 percent, from its peak in February.

The unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent in June, down from 12.3 percent in May, and 14.7 percent in April.

“While this is a very rapid improvement, the rate is far higher than the 3.5 percent in January and February, before the coronavirus crisis,” Faucher says. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is likely understated because of measurement issues, but there is no question that the rate has fallen dramatically over the past two months, heralding a major improvement in the labor market.”

Employment as measured in the household survey (different from the employer survey) rose by 4.9 million, while the labor force increased by 1.7 million. The share of adults (16 and over) with a job rose to 54.6 percent in June, up from 52.8 percent in May and 51.3 percent in April, but still down dramatically from 60.7 percent in February.

Goods-producing industries added 500,000 jobs over the month, with increases of 160,000 in construction and 360,000 in manufacturing. Private services-providing industries added 4.3 million jobs over the month. Leisure and hospitality services led the way as restaurants started to reopen, adding more than 2 million jobs in June. But employment in the industry is still down by almost 5 million from February. All of the major service industries added jobs in June, with gains of better than 500,000 in retail trade and education and health services.

Average hourly earnings fell 1.2 percent in June as job gains were in lower-paying industries, especially leisure/hospitality services. There was a 4.7 percent increase in the average wage in April as low-wage workers were much more likely to lose their jobs than high-wage workers. On a year-over-year basis average, hourly earnings were up 5 percent in June from one year ago. The distribution of job losses (and now job gains) across industries has skewed the earnings data.

“Very strong job growth in May and then even larger gains in June are further indication that the viral recession is now over and a recovery started in May as states allowed more economic activity,” Faucher says. “The economy has already added back one-third of the jobs lost during the recession, and the unemployment rate has fallen by more than 3 percentage points over the past two months.

“Still, the level of economic activity is much lower than it was in February, and the labor market still has a long way to go before it recovers,” he continues. “The job market will continue to improve over the course of 2020 and into 2021, although the pace of job gains will slow. Risks are to the downside, however. In particular, the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases and new state restrictions on activity are a significant threat to the recovery.”

State Distributes $880M in Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds
The Michigan Legislature passed and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Wednesday that appropriates nearly $880 million in federal funding to support various COVID-19 response actions across the state.

The supplemental budget includes a number of provisions that assist state agencies help citizens and small business weather the difficult economic conditions created by COVID-19, and ensure that workers who put themselves at risk on the frontlines are fairly compensated, including:

  • A $2/hour increase for direct care workers.
  • $125 million in grant funding to reduce the cost of child care for families.
  • $100 million for hazard pay for local first responders and $200 million for local units of government.
  • $100 million in small business restart grants.
  • $60 million in rental assistance and eviction diversion.
  • $25 million for wireless hotspots and enhanced connectivity.
  • $18 million for health and safety grants for schools.
  • $10 million in MIOSHA grants for protections to keep workers safe on the job.
  • $14 million for food banks and domestic violence shelters.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has galvanized the truth about the stubborn challenge of food insecurity in Michigan,” says Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “If you are hungry you only have one problem. Your mind is consumed with the toxic stress of what to eat and what to give your kids to eat. This bill and the relief it will bring helps take hunger off the table for Michigan families.”

In Related News: In response to the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases related to bars, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order to close most of these establishments in Michigan.

The action comes after 107 cases were linked to Harper’s bar in East Lansing and another three from people who visited Fifth Avenue in Royal Oak. Bars reopened June 7 after being closed since March in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

In-person Services Return to Detroit City Hall July 6
Several city departments at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center will resume in-person services on Monday July 6 for the first time since the Coronavirus Stay at Home Order began in March.

Residents will be able to schedule appointments for certain services within the Building Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED), Public Works, Tax and Assessor’s Office and Appeals and Hearings.

To keep guests and employees safe, the city launched COVID-19 Safe Workplace Standards. Anyone entering the building must first go through a temperature-screening checkpoint at both the Woodward and Randolph entrances, wear a mask or face covering, and observe physical distancing requirements in communal areas such as elevators, stairways, and waiting areas. Office capacity regulations, as set by the state, will be strictly enforced.

Prior to reopening, each city worker staffing these offices will be tested for COVID-19. These employees will follow strict health protocols, including daily temperature checks upon entering the building, wearing masks and social distancing.

Where possible, staff also will provide curbside assistance to further reduce the number of people in CAYMC. When scheduling an appointment, callers should inquire about curbside services available for their needs.

Appointments for in-person or curbside services can be made by calling the department directly, where available. Many services and payments still can be handled remotely online or via the DivDat mobile app, and customers are encouraged to call departments with questions.

No department personnel will be accepting cash as a form of payment; personnel will only accept debit and credit transactions. Cash may be used at the DivDat Kiosk located inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. There are also 56 locations throughout the city. To locate a kiosk near you, visit here.

Departments and hours of in-person availability:

  • Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department – Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; 313-224-2733, BSEED@detroitmi.gov, Accela/eLAPS for 24/7 service.
  • Department of Appeals and Hearings – Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; 313-224-0098, dah_cs@detroitmi.gov.
  • Department of Public Works – Monday-Thursday, 8 a.am.-4:30 p.m.; 313-224-3901.
  • Detroit Taxpayer Service Center – Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; 313-224-3560, DTSC@detroitmi.gov.

When possible, individuals are encouraged to call ahead or make an appointment for all services.

Athletico Offering Access to COVID-19 Rehab for First Responders and Health Care Workers
Athletico Physical Therapy, the Illinois-based physical and occupational therapy provider with several locations in southeast Michigan, waiving co-payments and co-insurance to first responders or licensed health care professionals who are seeking rehabilitation services after contracting COVID-19.

The company says it recognizes the role that the nation’s first responders and licensed health care professionals play during the current public health emergency due to the pandemic.

“Rehabilitation is vital to the COVID-19 recovery journey and we want to ensure full access to the benefits of a focused, personalized recovery program to first responders and critical healthcare workers in our communities who have been impacted,” says Travis Egli, vice president of clinical excellence at the company. “Athletico is proud to offer rehabilitation services to this crucial group that meet the eligibility requirements at no out-of-pocket expense.”

Patients receiving medical benefits through federally funded programs are not eligible, including but not limited to Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and the Veterans Administration.

Athletico’s COVID-19 Recovery and Rehabilitation program is designed to treat the physical and emotional challenges brought on from the virus. Physical complications after COVID-19 can persist for months or even years, and include impairments in muscle strength, heart and lung capacity, pain, balance, endurance, and walking ability leading to a loss of function and independence. Individualized treatment plans are created for patients which may include exercise training, manual therapy, body positioning and education focusing on mindfulness, relaxation, energy conservation and activity modification.

Treatment is available in-clinic, in the home, or virtually through the company’s telehealth platform. No prescription is needed in Michigan.

For a free assessment or book an appointment, visit here.

Priority Health Provides Free Access to Personal Mobile Health Companion
Grand Rapids-based Priority Health, the second-largest health care system in Michigan, is providing members free access to Brook, a personal mobile health companion that provides support in the areas of nutrition, sleep management, general health, and COVID-19 information.

Brook uses artificial intelligence and real-time health expert access to provide 24/7 personalized support for general health concerns and chronic conditions.

“As more people turn to telehealth services, Brook connects our members to chat live with health experts, and supports them in addressing their health needs,” says Nate Foco, vice president of marketing and customer experience at Priority Health.

Following the Priority Health app, Cost Estimator, and myStrength, Brook is the latest technological advancement Priority Health is offering members that provides a customized experience. It combines health experts, chat-bots, and data insights to create a personalized health companion experience. Brook aggregates user-provided personal health data and population health data to deliver personalized reminders, goals, and recommendations.

“We are very excited to work with Priority Health and make Brook an available resource to the member community during this time of need,” says Oren Nissim, CEO of Brook. “Brook was built on the idea that each of us deserves to be empowered to own our health, our experts are there to make that process easier by taking the guesswork out of managing a chronic condition.”

To help people adjust to the new normal, Brook has developed specific channels for members to communicate with health experts about staying healthy at home and taking more ownership over daily health management. While Brook health experts can support members with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, the app also allows users to create a custom Care Circle, where someone can connect and collaborate with other Brook users and health experts on issues or topics that are important to them.

Before expanding capabilities for COVID-19, Brook was developed to assist people suffering from chronic conditions including diabetes and hypertension.

Madison Heights Passes Resolution to Help City’s Restauranteurs
The Madison Heights City Council recently passed a resolution allowing outdoor seating, additional signage, and other relief measures to the city’s more than 100 restaurants. These guidelines are in effect until Oct. 4.

The resolution allows restaurants in the city to utilize outdoor space on their private property to expand the approved use of their business. This allows people additional space to maintain social distancing from one another while dining. In addition, Temporary Seasonal Business license fees are waived for the duration of this resolution.

“The city of Madison Heights is committed to encouraging economic activity and assisting local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to safely ease back into operation while at the same contain the spread of the virus,” says Melissa Marsh, city manager. “Madison Heights has rapidly become Michigan’s hot spot for diverse and innovative restaurateurs to open new locations, offering an unrivaled diversity of cuisine, and we want show our support and continue the City’s tradition of being a business-friendly community.”

Under this resolution, bars and restaurants may expand their outdoor dining area to utilize up to 30 percent of their required parking. The resolution also serves as municipal permission to allow expanded outdoor consumption of alcoholic beverages in compliance with any of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission rules and regulations.

The city also waived all application fees, license and/or rental fees for the temporary use of outdoor public or private property permitted by this resolution and business owners may post temporary signage relating to hours of operation, pick-up and delivery services, and specials, providing they meet city requirements.

Visit here for a guide of restaurants in Madison Heights.

Rocket Mortgage Classic Charity Golf Match Raises $1.25M
A special exhibition golf match ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which starts today at the Detroit Golf Club, has raised $1.25 million for the tournament’s “Changing the Course” initiative to end the digital divide in Detroit.

Yesterday’s match saw two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and Harold Varner III defeat World No. 1 Jason Day and Wesley Bryan 3 up in the casual, good-natured nine-hole event.

More than $1 million was raised before the first ball was teed up through a matching campaign by title sponsor Rocket Mortgage and $250,000 from Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, $100,000 from five-time PGA Tour winner and Rocket Mortgage spokesman Rickie Fowler, and $25,000 from Watson. After the match, Rocket Mortgage CEO Jay Farner pledged another to $250,000 the cause.

Changing the Course is the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s new, multi-year initiative in partnership with title sponsor Rocket Mortgage, that aims to end the digital divide in Detroit and ensure every Detroit resident has access to the internet, technology, and digital literacy training.

“When Bubba heard what we were doing with Changing the Course, he let us know he wanted to support the effort however he could, so he put this match together pretty quickly, and we can’t thank him enough for getting behind what we’re doing,” says Farner.

Donations are being accepted through the end of the tournament on Sunday by texting “AREA313” to 243725 or by visiting here.

Detroit Jazz Festival Goes Virtual
The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage will be a virtual event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be streamed and broadcast live for free this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7.

All performances will be streamed or broadcasted live (no replays or on-demand) from indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and closed to the public.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival is one of our city’s most popular events, and we’re thrilled to know that this 41-year tradition will continue this summer – safely and with a spotlight on our world-class local artists,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Jazz enthusiasts will be able to view or listen to performances free of charge in a number of ways including:  Channel 22, the city’s new arts and entertainment channel; the festival’s website; on public radio and television stations; and on the DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is taking health and safety and the use of technology to a new level of excellence this year,” says Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “Working with city, state and federal authorities, we evaluated several contingency plans to ensure the health and safety of our extensive audience during the pandemic. After much consideration, it was decided to create a virtual performance environment that will duplicate the live performance experience.”

Details of the festival’s new format include:

Three large indoor sound stages set up at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Each stage will mimic the size, sound, lighting, crew, and gear of the traditional festival stages.

Each soundstage will be shot with three cameras in HD audio/video.

Programming includes opening night followed by 8-10 hours per day of live/real-time continuous jazz performances and programming streamed to various formats.

Live performances also will be carried by Detroit Public Television, WRCJ 90.9 FM, and WDET 101.9 FM.

“We have all felt the pain of all the cancelled festivals and experiences around the globe,” says Collins. “The sheer financial strain the pandemic has put on artists, agents, crew, and indeed the entire musical industry is epic. Fortunately, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is in an almost unique position to produce a real, live jazz format this year, albeit in a virtual environment, due to our status as a free festival for 41 years, a progressive funding structure from generous corporate sponsors and private donors, and a three-year investment in year-round streaming and broadcast technologies through our DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.”

The festival soon will put out a call to identify a local artist to create a poster for the event.

Cranbrook Gardens Opens; Museum, Science Institute to Follow July 15
Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills announced Wednesday that its Cranbrook Gardens now are open to the public and the Cranbrook Art Museum and Cranbrook Institute of Science will reopen July 15.

“After careful evaluation, we have decided that it is safe at this time to open our public spaces with some modifications,” says Dominic DiMarco, president of the Cranbrook Educational Community. “We encourage visitors to check each organization’s website first before planning a visit. There will be timed ticketing, guest requirements for masks and social distancing, and other important information. We are excited to welcome visitors back to campus with new parameters to ensure we are doing all that we can for visitor safety.”

Guests are asked to observe the following procedures while indoors:

  • All guests aged three and older are required to wear a mask while indoors.
  • Masks can be removed from young children if they remain in a carrier or stroller.
  • Children aged two and under are not required to wear a mask but are encouraged to remain in a stroller or carrier for the duration of their visit.
  • Visitors will be asked to maintain six feet of social distancing.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at visitor entrances and high-contact areas.
  • Acrylic panels will separate staff from visitors at admission desks.
  • In addition to daily cleaning procedures, enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces will take place throughout the day.
  • Each public venue will have capacity limits at any given time, and there may be a wait to enter.
  • Advanced tickets and/or reservations are required for admission to Cranbrook Art Museum and Cranbrook Institute of Science. Visit each venue’s website in advance to register for or purchase tickets.

The Cranbrook Art Museum will open with an Art Member Preview Week, allowing members exclusive first access, from July 15-19. The museum will then open to the general public on July 22, 2020. Its hours will be Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday, noon-5 p.m.; Thursday, noon-8 p.m. (free all day but advance online registration is required); Friday and Saturday, noon-5 p.m.

The Cranbrook Institute of Science will reopen to members only July 15-19, and will reopen to the public on Tuesday, July 21. All guests will receive free general admission July 21-26. Visitors to the institute will be required to pre-register online in advance of their visit, and beginning Tuesday, July 28, will purchase general admission tickets upon arrival. Maximum capacity at any given time will be limited to 100 guests. Hours will be: Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-noon, 12:30-2:30 p.m., and 3-5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-noon, 12:30-2:30 p.m., 3-5 p.m. and 6-9:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Noon-2 p.m., and 2:30-5 p.m.

The Acheson Planetarium will be closed upon the initial reopening phase and will reopen when it is deemed safe with social distancing guidelines in place.

Cranbrook House and Gardens opened for the season on July 1. The 40-acre gardens will be open to the public daily from 7 a.m.-7:00 p.m. (including weekends and holidays). Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds free of charge, courtesy of sponsors PNC Bank, All Seasons Independent Living, fleurdetroit, and Roberts Restaurant Group. Guests are encouraged to practice social distancing and other preventative guidelines recommended by the CDC.

Farmington Hills’ Plum Market Kitchen to open in Cleveland
Farmington Hills-based Plum Market and California’s Bon Appétit Management Co. have partnered with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to bring a new urban-market concept featuring all-natural, organic, and locally sourced food, beverage, and wellness items to University Circle in January.

“The addition of Plum Market to the Uptown retail district brings an innovative, health-conscious grocery and dining operation to serve the university’s faculty, staff, and students as well as the University Circle community,” says Richard Jamieson, vice president for campus services at Case Western Reserve. “This new operation, made possible through our strong partnership with Bon Appetit, will provide an excellent dining venue while meeting the vital grocery needs of area shoppers.”

Plum Market, with multiple format locations in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, was selected for its legacy of quality and innovation in the natural grocery sector, according to the university. The company is known for all-natural groceries, apothecary and wellness items, and its wine and beer selection. The new 12,000-square-foot market also will include a coffee bar with a full line of freshly brewed coffee drinks and teas.

“We are thrilled to open this location here in Uptown,” says Matt Jonna, founder and CEO of Plum Market. “We’re offering something that we feel is very special and want to share that with those who live, work, and visit the campus community.”

The company has locations associated with other colleges including Oakland University in Rochester Hills and Butler University in Indianapolis.

Jackson’s Dawn Foods Launches National eCommerce Platform for Bakers
Jackson-based Dawn Foods, a global supplier of baking ingredients, has unveiled an eCommerce platform for its existing U.S. retail bakery customers that streamlines the ordering process, making it more convenient, efficient, simple, and easy to navigate for all their baking supply needs.

The new platform provides bakers with 24/7 access to baking supplies ordering, even on mobile devices. Most bakeries use traditional ordering methods via paper or telephone from their suppliers.

“Dawn is adding to its history of innovation by creating its own digital path – driving significant change across its core business,” says Bob Howland, chief digital officer of Dawn. “This platform was built with input from our pilot program customers and in partnership with some of the best companies in the digital space. Now, Dawn customers can conveniently explore all of our products and find inspiration and insights to help grow their business.”

Last year, Dawn initiated a digital pilot program with more than 100 customers, which allowed the company to understand the features customers needed most and how they interacted with the platform.

For more information on Dawn’s eCommerce bakery platform, visit here.

West Michigan Banks Complete Merger

ChoiceOne Financial Services, Inc. and Community Shores Bank Corporation Complete Merger
ChoiceOne Financial Services Inc. of Sparta (north of Grand Rapids) and Community Shores Bank Corp. of Muskegon has completed a merger to form the 12th largest bank holding company in Michigan based on asset size, with approximately $1.7 billion in assets and 33 offices across the state.

The combined organization, which will operate under the ChoiceOne name, will be headquartered in Sparta. The consolidation is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Our acquisition of Community Shores is a natural geographical and cultural fit for ChoiceOne and allows us to expand our community bank franchise further into West Michigan,” says Kelly Potes, CEO of ChoiceOne. “Our combined company offers greater capacity and diversity for commercial and consumer lending as well as leading advancements in technology.

“ChoiceOne will offer small businesses and consumers in west and southeast Michigan an extensive line of products and services delivered through an enhanced retail network including online, mobile, and branch banking.”

Heather Brolick, president and CEO of Community Shores Bank Corp., says, “We look forward to our partnership with ChoiceOne in providing enhanced value and services to our combined customers.”

Real Men Wear Pink to Support Breast Cancer Research
For the fifth consecutive year, the American Cancer Society is encouraging the men of metro Detroit to wear pink to help save lives from the ravages of breast cancer.

The Real Men Wear Pink of Metro Detroit campaign is looking for a group of dedicated community leaders who are determined to help the American Cancer Society move closer to a world free from the pain and suffering of breast cancer.

Real Men candidates are asked to do the following:

  • Pledge to fundraise alongside other Real Men Wear Pink candidates for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Metro Detroit beginning September through October 2020, with the goal to reach or exceed $2,500.
  • Commit to wearing pink every day in October.
  • Complete a candidate bio that will be shared via the Real Men fundraising website and social media.
  • Raise awareness through personal social networks by using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to talk about your campaign efforts and seek donations.
  • Engage a campaign manager – spouse, assistant, co-worker, etc. – to support you and your fundraising efforts.
  • Share your story with everyone you know including coworkers, peers, friends, and neighbors.
  • Consent to being photographed wearing a pink item to help promote the Real Men Wear Pink campaign.

Real Men Wear Pink participants receive:

  • Opportunity to network with metro Detroit top-level executives and distinguished community leaders.
  • Candidate promotion through local media sponsors.
  • Exclusive access for you and a guest to attend premiere candidate virtual networking events.
  • Official Real Men Wear Pink gear.
  • The exclusive prize for top fundraiser and Real Men Wear Pink traveling trophy.
  • Special recognition item of your choosing after $2,500 goal is met.

For more information and to enlist as a Man Who Wears Pink, visit here.

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