Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 1

A quick look at what’s happening locally 
Pontiac-based Detroit Sewn has restructured its business to produce 300,000 medical masks. // Photograph courtesy of Detroit Sewn

The CDC reports that there are now 186,101 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 3,603 deaths. According to The New York Times, a senior administration official said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s supply of masks, gloves, and gowns is nearly empty. However, the agency still intends to distribute more than 9,400 ventilators. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit: 

On April 1, 1,719 new COVID-19 cases and 78 new deaths were reported in Michigan. That brings the state’s total to 9,334 cases and 337 deaths. [

In today’s news conference, Mayor Mike Duggan shared that another 600 people were tested at the State Fairgrounds on April 1, and 3,000 appointments have been booked at the site. As Detroit’s number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the mayor says it is a sign that the city’s testing program is working effectively. Duggan also shared that just over 90 employees at The Detroit Police Department and 17 at the Detroit Fire Department have now tested positive for COVID-19. There are 525 Detroit police officers and 136 members of the fire department in quarantine. Duggan says that a reduction in crime in the city is a sign that Detroiters are taking the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order seriously. The entire news conference can be viewed on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

To keep its staff and the larger community safe, National Coney Island is temporarily closing its 20 restaurants. The Southeast Michigan restaurant chain, headquartered in Roseville, has provided carry-out service to customers for weeks. “We look forward to the day we are all back doing what we know how to do best, which is serving our community and delivering the best Coney experience to our guests when it is safe to do so in the coming weeks,” says Tom Giftos, president and CEO of National Coney Island, in a posting on the company’s website. Customers are encouraged to visit local grocers, such as Kroger, to find the chain’s hot dogs and chili products, and visit to order Coney kits. [National Coney Island

Today, Detroit food producer E.W. Grobbel Sons, Inc. donated 40,000 pounds of frozen corned beef to Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit based in Oak Park that recently put out a call for more food donations. The donation filled a 53-foot tractor-trailer. “The COVID-19 crisis is affecting our community in a number of ways and impacting individuals and families on multiple social and economic fronts,” says Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. “The additional support during this crisis will ensure families, children and seniors are guaranteed a supply of much-needed protein throughout this difficult time.” [E.W. Grobbel Sons, Inc. / Forgotten Harvest

Detroit Sewn has restructured its operations to produce more than 300,000 medical masks. The Pontiac-based sewing house has added a second shift, acquired more high-production sewing machines, and outsource work to Detroit-based subcontractors, and as a result, it’s been able to produce 10,000 masks a week and plans to produce 50,000 masks by April 6. The company has also partnered with Glamourous Moms Foundation, a Rochester-based nonprofit, to create a volunteer hub in downtown Pontiac that accepts homemade masks. [Detroit Sewn

Pure Michigan Business Connect, a program by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is offering up to $1 million in grants to small manufacturers in Michigan who plan to revamp their business to produce supplies that can be used during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will be awarded in sums of $10,000 to $150,000, and businesses and nonprofits that receive the funds can use them to purchase new equipment, support logistics and shipping costs, upgrade technology, and more. Interested organizations can apply, here. [Pure Michigan Business Connect]  

TFC Bank has created a $100,000 match incentive program in collaboration with Henry Ford Health System’s COVID-19 Emergency Needs Fund. Officials with the Detroit-based financial holding company hope that by offering to match donations, it will encourage other businesses and individuals to contribute to the fund, which is providing resources to those working the front lines of the pandemic. [Henry Ford Health System / TCF Bank

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors Co. reported a decrease in first-quarter sales due to the impact of the coronavirus in March. Specifically, FCA saw a 10% decline and GM saw a 7% decrease. To increase sales, the auto companies are introducing new specials and encouraging customers to try digital shopping. FCA, for example, has launched an initiative called Drive Forward, which offers incentives — like 0% financing for 84 months and payments for 90 days on select 2019 and 2020 models — as well as a new online retail experience. While GM is directing customers to its online GM Shop, which allows browsers to view inventory, choose a vehicle, customize payment, and schedule home delivery. [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / General Motors Co.]

According to the COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, it is estimated that Michigan’s restaurant industry lost $491 million in sales and more than 72,000 jobs between March 1-22. During this time, restaurant operators reported a 43% decline in sales, and 1% closed their restaurant permanently and 9% expect to permanently close within the next 30 days. “This survey brings empirical data to what we have all witnessed in recent weeks—that the restaurant industry in Michigan is in free fall and at great risk of being completely decimated through no fault of its own,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, in a statement. “There are more than 16,000 restaurants in this state. Under the current circumstances, as many as one-third might not make it through without significant financial help and flexibility from our elected leaders.” [Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association

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