Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 13

A quick look at what’s happening locally
The Research Institute at Beaumont Health is launching new tests to learn how COVID-19 spreads. // Photograph courtesy of Beaumont Health 

The CDC is now reporting 554,849 COVID-19 cases and 21,942 deaths in the U.S. As the pandemic continues to affect life in America, the Treasury Department announces 80 million citizens will receive their stimulus payments this week, the Census Bureau is seeking a four-month delay for its count, and states across the county have started to prepare plans for reopening. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 997 new COVID-19 cases and 115 deaths. In total, the state has seen 25,635 cases and 1,602 deaths. [

In a press conference today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has launched a statewide hotline for residents whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic. Michiganders can call 888-733-7753 to connect with a mental health professional. The governor confirmed that DTE Energy will provide 2 million N95 masks to the state. The company, headquartered in Detroit, had already delivered 300,000 masks to the state. Whitmer announced that she’s joined 11 other governors to request that the Trump Administration allows a special enrollment period of at least 30 days for healthcare. The governor said in a press release that many of the state’s residents who are uninsured or underinsured are forgoing COVID-19 testing and treatment due to fear of financial burdens, and it is essential to remove barriers so they can access what they need. Finally, looking forward, Whitmer says that to reopen the economy the state will need to see a sustained reduction in case count, an enhanced ability to test and trace COVID-19, best practices for workplaces, and a sufficient healthcare capacity. [

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has extended its campground closures at state parks, recreation areas, and state forest campgrounds through May 15. Individuals who made reservations before then will receive a full refund. At this time, reservations are still being accepted for May 15 and beyond. [

Ford Motor Co., which is currently producing more than 3 million face shields in Plymouth, will begin making a new pressurized respirator face mask on April 14 at the company’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock. The automotive company plans to make 100,000 or more respirators. Furthermore, Ford is working on manufacturing reusable gowns from airbag materials with supplier Joyson Safety Systems, and its lending support to Thermo Fisher Scientific to expand the production of COVID-19 collection kits that are used to test for the virus. [Ford Motor Co.]

Andiamo has delivered more than 1,000 meals to local healthcare workers since it began its initiative to feed front liners at the start of the month. This week, the local Italian chain plans to provide more than 1,2000 meals to employees at McLaren hospital in Macomb. Those interested in sponsoring meals can reach out to Samantha Visconti at 248-643-6000 or A sponsorship of $500 can provide up to 50 Andiamo meals. [Andiamo

In a press conference at Eastern Market today, Mayor Mike Duggan shared that 67 Detroiters have died of COVID-19 since April 11. While the deaths remain high, the mayor says that the death rate is now doubling every 10 to 12 days, rather than every three to four. “Nearly every trend is heading in an encouraging direction,” he said. “What the people of this community have done to knock this virus done has been pretty inspiring.” While Duggan shared positive news that 600 police officers and 100 firefighters are now back at work after completing quarantines and that the city will conduct its 10,000th COVID-19 test tomorrow, he said that Detroit is still struggling with its infection rates in nursing homes. Therefore, the city is committing 240 tests a day over the next 10 days to nursing home residents and staff. Watch the whole conference on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center, a Detroit-based nonprofit that offers academic support for at-risk youth and adults, is now offering remote versions of its programs. The free children’s program will offer tutoring in math and reading for kids in first through fifth grade. The free adult program is geared toward individuals obtaining their GED and features one-on-one tutoring and personalized learning plans. Both programs, operating through the duration of the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, are now accepting students. [St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center]  

The Research Institute at Beaumont Health is launching the country’s largest study using serological testing — a blood test that detects the antibodies the body has created to fight an infection — to learn how COVID-19 spreads. According to the CDC, 25% to 50% of those who contract COVID-19 may not show symptoms and can spread the disease to others. Through its study, the Research Institute aims to determine how many of its 38,000 employees have antibodies for the coronavirus but never showed symptoms. The data will help the health system understand how susceptible healthcare workers are to get COVID-19, how long an antibody response lasts, how antibody levels related to the severity of illness, and if COVID-19 antibodies protect individuals from getting the infection again. [Beaumont Health

A new report from the University of Michigan shows that countries that have a policy mandating the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine — a tuberculosis vaccination typically given at birth or in childhood — have seen slower growth of COVID-19 cases and deaths. According to the report, had the United States implemented a mandatory BCG vaccine several decades ago, the country may have only seen 94 deaths from COVID-19 — instead of 2,467 — by March 29. The entire report can be read, here. [University of Michigan

The Detroit Free Press has launched a new initiative to support metro Detroit healthcare workers and restaurants. Called Rescue Detroit Restaurants + Feed Healthcare Heroes, the program is collecting donations so 10 of Freep’s best new restaurant winners — including Folk Detroit, Grey Ghost, Pernoi, SheWolf Pastificio & Bar, and Leila — can provide 5,000 meals to employees at Beaumont, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, and Providence/Ascension. Each meal costs $20, and funds that don’t go toward food costs, labor, containers, and delivery will go to each participating restaurant. The initiative aims to raise $100,000 for these 10 eateries. Donations will be accepted on FundRazr until April 30. [Detroit Free Press

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