Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 16

A quick look at what’s happening locally
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rocket mortgage classic - covid-19
Olympian Rickie Fowler, pictured above, is among the golfers who have already committed to the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, which has now moved from its original date in May to a TV-only event in July. // Photograph courtesy of Rocket Mortgage

The CDC is now reporting 632,548 cases of COVID-19 and 27,012 deaths in the U.S. According to CNN, federal guidelines for reopening the economy were communicated to governors across the nation today. Documents that were distributed to state officials outline a phased reopening. President Donald Trump is expected to reveal these plans to the public during a news conference scheduled for 6 p.m. today. Politico, which spoke with a Republican close to the White House, is reporting that the initial goal of reopening is to bring people under the age of 65 and without preexisting conditions back into the workforce as soon as possible. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

Today, the state of Michigan reported 1,204 new COVID-19 cases and 172 deaths. The death toll for April 16 appears higher than recent days — For example, on April 13, the state only saw 115 deaths — because the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has put in place a weekly review of death certificate data. As a result of this week’s assessment, 65 previous COVID-19 deaths were identified and included in today’s numbers. So far, the state has seen 29,263 cases and 2,093 deaths. [Michigan.gov

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has partnered with governors from Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky to work on safely reopening the economy in the Midwest. To determine the best timeline for reopening the economy, the governors will consider factors such as are whether the states have sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, how well they’re able to test and trace COVID-19, if there is enough healthcare capacity to handle a resurgence, and best practices for social distancing in the workplace. “We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region,” Whitmer says. “We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet.” [Michigan.gov]

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was joined by Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has been cleared from work after recovering from COVID-19, at his press conference today in Eastern Market. The mayor spoke about the COVID-19 numbers in Michigan, saying that the state’s review of old death certificates contributed to a higher death count in the city today. Sixty-nine deaths were counted in the city, yet 36 of those were from previous dates. “In this state, we have not had a process for the hospitals to be committed to timely report this information,” he said. “Doctor Khaldun [chief medical executive and chief deputy director of health for the MDHHS] has been fighting this every step of the way. You can imagine with the hospitals being slammed, the person remembering to send in the report to the state hasn’t always done it.” Visit the City of Detroit Government Facebook page to watch the entire conference. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

The owners of Royal Oak-based Clean Planet Foods have coordinated a project to deliver lunch to 1,000 front line workers in metro Detroit with the help of local chefs and restaurateurs behind BBQ Pit Cruz, Roman Village, Jack’s Roadside BBQ, Bacco Ristorante, Detroit BBQ, and Woodpile BBQ Shack. Lunches will be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 17 at sites such as Wayne State University Police Department, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Southfield Fire Department, and Pontiac General Hospital. Packages include sandwiches, macaroni, bean dip, homemade cookies, and more. [Clean Planet Foods

Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell and Ron Fournier, president of the public relations firm Truscott Rossman and the former publisher and editor of Crain’s Detroit Business, appeared on MSNBC this morning to talk about the Operation Gridlock rally that took place at the Michigan Capitol yesterday. The protest was organized to disapprove Gov. Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order. “What happened yesterday was inexcusable,” Dingell told anchor Stephanie Ruhle. “People did not have masks, they did not have gloves, they did not distance themselves. They had Confederate flags, swastikas, they blocked an ambulance trying to get to a hospital. Bringing hate and fear into a time that is already full of fear and anxiety is just unacceptable.” Fournier added, “You can’t encourage people to gather in mass during a pandemic, which is happening. It’s inexcusable. It’s dangerous.” The entire segment can be viewed on MSNBC’s YouTube page. [YouTube: MSNBC

The Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club has been postponed to July 2-5 as a TV-only event. The tournament was originally scheduled for May 25-31, with golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson committed to playing. Those who purchased tickets will have the choice of donating a percentage of their 2020 ticket purchase, receiving a full refund, or receiving credit toward 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic tickets. Officials with the event, which raised more than $1.1 million for Detroit charities in 2019, are now working with partners to identify causes in the city the tournament can raise money and awareness for this year. “As this is a TV-only event with no spectators, we are examining new fundraising capabilities that have yet to be seen on the tour,” says Jason Langwell, executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “I, for one, am anticipating great things from the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the impact it will have on the city and its residents.” [Rocket Mortgage Classic

Detroit Public Television is producing a virtual town with Sen. Gary Peters and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, which will air at 7 p.m. tonight. The broadcast will be hosted by anchors Carolyn Clifford of WXYZ-TV, Huel Perkins of WJBK-TV, and Devin Scillian of WDIV-TV, and cover topics related to COVID-19, such as unemployment, healthcare, testing, and what comes next. The three stations are taking questions from viewers online now. To watch, tune into Channels 2 (WJBK-TV), 4 (WDIV-TV), 7 (WXYZ-TV), 20 (WMYD-TV), 50 (WKBD-TV), 56 (WTVS-TV) or 62 (WWJ-TV), or visit clickondetroit.comfox2detroit.comwxyz.com, or dptv.org. [Detroit Public Television

Twelve Michigan small businesses and nonprofits that have received a total of $1 million in grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Pure Michigan Business Connect COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants program. Funds were awarded to organizations that are revamping their work to produce health and human services supplies. Among the metro Detroit recipients are York Project, a Detroit clothing company that is now producing surgical masks; Pontiac-based Detroit Sewn, which is creating face masks; and the Detroit-based Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, which is producing gowns. The program launched on April 1, and 313 companies applied for grants. A six-person panel reviewed the applications to determine which organizations had the best ability to execute plans, had a need for financial assistance, could complete their retooling in a timely manner, could make an economic and public health impact, and were planning to create goods that were in demand. [Michigan Economic Development Corp.] 

After receiving approval a couple of weeks ago from the state to designate Beaumont Wayne as a COVID-19 only hospital, the health system has temporarily closed the location. “Fortunately, the surge [of the coronavirus] was more moderated, likely due to aggressive social distancing, the stay at home order, and other factors mitigating the spread of the disease,” says a news release from Beaumont. On April 14, the few remaining patients at the hospital were discharged or transferred to other Beaumont locations. Most of the staff is being redeployed to other Beaumont hospitals, while others will be temporarily laid off. Because the pandemic “remains very unpredictable,” officials with Beaumont says the Wayne location will retain its COVID-19 only status until executive orders are lifted and the disaster deceleration has ended. Beaumont also shared today that seven of its hospital Emergency Centers — not including Wayne — and its freestanding Emergency Center in Canton remain open for non-COVID-19 medical emergencies and trauma. [Beaumont

Henry Ford Health System and the City of Detroit and its health department are partnering to deploy 100 healthcare volunteers to test for COVID-19 in the city’s nursing homes and homeless shelters. This week, the teams have already visited 26 nursing homes and 20 homeless shelters. The volunteers, which aim to test about 200 people a day, are using rapid test kits by Abbott, which deliver results in about 15 minutes. Those who test positive are isolated or quarantined. [Henry Ford Health System / City of Detroit

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