COVID-19 Update: U.S. Labor Department Launches Paid Sick Leave Eligibility Tool, Local Urgent Care Facilities Offer Rapid COVID-19 Testing, Americans Support Travel Industry Stimulus, 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 June 23

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 – Labor Department Launches Tool to Help Determine Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave
The U.S. Department of Labor has launched an interactive online tool to help workers determine if they qualify for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to cover time away from work for reasons related to the coronavirus.

The tool guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act apply to their employer. If the provisions do apply, the tool helps them learn whether they qualify for either paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under that law.

The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide employees with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework due to a federal, state, or local quarantine or stay-at-home order. Employees also are eligible if a health care provider has advised them to self-quarantine for reasons related to the coronavirus or are seeking diagnosis for coronavirus symptoms.

Paid sick leave also may be available to workers caring for someone subject to a quarantine order or self-quarantining based on a health care provider’s advice, or caring for a child whose school, place of care, or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to the coronavirus. Up to 10 additional weeks of expanded family and medical leave is available for workers forced to miss work to care for their children because the pandemic has closed or made unavailable their school, place of care, or childcare provider.

“This new tool makes it simple for workers to find out if they may be eligible for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under the critical protections of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” says Cheryl Stanton, administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division. “As America reopens, this leave provides a crucial lifeline for millions of workers who need time off to care for themselves or their families. We want to ensure that everyone who is eligible knows about these protections and how to use them.”

For more information, visit here and here.

Southfield and Novi Urgent Care Facilities Offer Rapid COVID-19 Testing
IEP Healthy Urgent Care’s facilities in Southfield and Novi are two of the few health care centers in southeast Michigan to offer the new rapid COVID-19 antigen test.

The test, manufactured by Quidel, detects active COVID-19 infection in 15 minutes using the same technology as rapid tests for flu, strep throat, and other infections diagnosed right at the doctor’s office.

“Quidel’s diagnostic technology is proven and trusted,” says Dr. John Kulish, medical director of IEP Healthy Urgent Care Novi and Southfield. “Their rapid flu and strep tests have been used for years by physicians and hospitals. Quidel’s Rapid test is 100 percent specific to SARS COV 2 antigens, significantly higher than rapid tests released earlier, and will not falsely detect other viral strains. This new rapid test will give patients’ results before they leave the clinic, rather than waiting days for results with prior tests.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Quidel emergency use authorization on May 8 for its antigen test, Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA.

Register online for an appointment here or call the Southfield office at 248-569-0820 or Novi at 248-513-3719.

Survey: 70% of Americans Support More Stimulus to Help Travel Industry
A new survey commissioned by the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that while Americans remain hesitant about traveling, they support efforts by Congress to help the travel industry recover including helping hotels keep their doors open and bring back employees, as well as incentivizing Americans to travel again.

With only 18 percent of respondents reported taking an overnight trip since March, the devastation caused to the hotel industry already is nine times worse than 9/11, with more than eight in 10 hotels having to lay off or furlough workers during the pandemic.

Key findings:

  • 70 percent of Americans support the passage of additional economic stimulus for the industries most negatively impacted by the pandemic, including the travel and hospitality sectors.
  • By nearly a 3-1 margin, Americans support a new, temporary federal travel tax credit to encourage people to travel (61% support, 21% oppose).
  • By nearly a 3-1 margin, Americans support restoring the business entertainment expense deduction to encourage business travel (57% support, 21% oppose).
  • By more than a 3-1 margin, Americans support efforts by the federal government to require banks to offer debt relief or forbearance on commercial hotel mortgages (63% support, 16% oppose).

“As communities reopen, we are encouraged to see people begin to travel and some hotel jobs return, but make no mistake, most hotels are still trying to survive,” says Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “Americans overwhelmingly support efforts by Congress to provide the hotel industry with additional support to ensure we can bring back our employees and keep our doors open. We need Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis, so we can retain and rehire the people who power our industry, our communities and our economy.”

The industry has laid out a Roadmap to Recovery calling on Congress to help hotels retain and rehire employees, protect employees and guests, keep hotel doors open, and incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe.

Part of the hotel industry’s roadmap for Congress is providing a temporary tax incentive to encourage domestic travel and restoring the business entertainment expense deduction, which Rogers says not only will provide a boost to hotels and their ability to stay open and retain employees but also the local economies, including restaurants and retail stores that rely on business from travelers.

Prior to the pandemic, hotels supported one in 25 American jobs — 8.3 million in total —and contributed $40 billion in direct state and local tax revenue in 2018 alone. Because of the sharp drop in travel demand from COVID-19, however, eight in 10 hotels had to lay off or furlough workers. State and local tax revenue from hotel operations are estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020, according to a new report by Oxford Economics released by AHLA.

Looking ahead, the survey also found that travel is not expected to fully return until next year with a majority of Americans saying they have no plans to travel for the rest of 2020.

Rocket Mortgage Classic Attracts Some of the World’s Top Golfers
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, to be played July 2-5 at the Detroit Golf Club with no fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is attracting many of the world’s top golfers.

Twelve-time PGA Tour winner and major champion Jason Day, world No. 34 Kevin Na, and world No. 38 Kevin Kisner have committed in recent days to play in the Detroit tournament.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic’s 156-player field will be final on Friday.

The commitments from this trio adds to an already top-tier field for the second edition of the tournament, with the winner earning $1.350,000 and 500 FedExCup points. Other notables in the field include:

Patrick Reed – World No. 7, 2018 Masters champion, and eight-time PGA Tour winner.

Bryson DeChambeau – World No. 11 and five-time PGA Tour winner.

Tony Finau – World No. 17 with five top-10 results in golf’s last eight majors.

Rickie Fowler – World No. 31 and five-time PGA Tour winner.

Bubba Watson – The 2012 and 2014 Masters champion and 12-time PGA Tour winner.

Nate Lashley – Inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic champion in 2019.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic will be broadcast on the Golf Channel and CBS. Visit here for more information.

Children’s Hospital Collects 500,000 Servings for Virtual Cereal Drive
DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan announces that through its partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, more than 500,000 servings of cereal were raised as a part of the 11th Annual Cereal Drive, which ran from May 18-June 8.

“The cereal and monetary donations we collected during our first-ever virtual Cereal Drive will provide a nutritious breakfast during the summer months to local families struggling with food insecurity,” says Kathy Donovan, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “I cannot thank our staff and our community enough for the role they all played. We care deeply about the children of Southeast Michigan and we want to do our part to combat hunger.”

The first Cereal Drive took place in 2009 and collected 160,757 servings of cereal. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cereal Drive was largely virtual as Children’s Hospital accepted online donations going to Gleaners Community Food Bank to support the community wherever the need is greatest this year.

Last year, the hospital raised more than 3 million servings and the initiative had collected more than 10.8 million servings of cereal over 10 years.  The organization extended thanks to Kellogg, Kroger, Jay Towers in the Morning, and all of the community members for helping make this year’s Cereal Drive a success.

In Southeast Michigan, more than 310,000 children rely on free or reduced-fee breakfast and lunch each day during the school year. Unfortunately, during the summer months, many of these children suffer from hunger because they no longer receive adequate meals.

Those who wish may still make a donation by visiting here.