Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 2

A quick look at what’s happening locally
covid-19 tcf center
Workers at TCF Center in Detroit prep the site to become a 1,000-bed temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients. // Photograph courtesy of TCF Center

Globally, according to data compiled by Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 1 million COVID-19 cases confirmed and just over 50,000 deaths. Meanwhile, the CDC reports that there are 213,144 cases and 4,513 deaths in the U.S. Like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, many other governors across the country are turning to stay-at-home orders to protect citizens. Today, the governor of Tennessee issued a stay-at-home order and the governor of Ohio extended the state’s stay-at-home order from April 6 to May 1. Tomorrow, Florida’s 30-day stay-at-home order goes into effect. In total, more than 30 states have implemented the same or similar orders. Meanwhile, Congress continues to figure out how to best serve the country. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has formed a committee to oversee the federal government’s $2 trillion response to the coronavirus. The bipartisan panel is expected to examine the response and ensure taxpayer’s money is spent wisely and efficiently. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

Today, Michigan reported 1,457 new COVID-19 cases and 80 new deaths. In total, the state has seen 10,791 cases and 417 deaths. [Michigan.gov

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today signed an executive order that requires all K-12 buildings in Michigan to stay closed for the rest of the school year. “My No. 1 priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19,” she says. Schools will continue to operate using remote learning, and teachers and other school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year. [Michigan.gov]  

In today’s news conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan shared that he spoke with City Council President Brenda Jones, who has tested positive for COVID-19, and “she wants everybody to know that she’s doing well.” Detroit Police Department Chief James Craig is still fighting the coronavirus. Duggan also had updates on the testing site at the Michigan State Fairground. According to him, in the first two days the site was open, 43% of the 500 individuals tested received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Overall, since the outbreak started in Michigan, Duggan says the state’s numbers have been about 25% positive. He says it’s unclear whether the sickest individuals happened to come to the test site in the first couple days it was open or if the disease has spread more than originally anticipated. Nevertheless, he believes it is important that all Detroiters have access to testing. The entire conference can be viewed on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

Also mentioned in the mayor’s conference was news of a Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System’s plan to lead the first large-scale study in the U.S. to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial drug — in preventing COVID-19 in healthcare workers and first responders. Led by Dr. Marcus Zervos, the division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford, the WHIP COVID-19 Study could begin as early as next week. The 3,000-plus subjects will participate on a volunteer basis and will go through eight weeks of testing. The study’s organizer, Dr. William W. O’Neill, an interventional cardiologist and researcher at Henry Ford, says while there has been a lot of discussion of the potential of the drug, only a small, non-blind study in Europe tested it. “We are going to change that in metro Detroit,” he says, “and produce a scientific answer to the question: Does it work?” If the study shows that hydroxychloroquine is effective in preventing COVID-19, the drug may be included in treatment options for the coronavirus. [Henry Ford Health System

The City of Plymouth Downtown Development Authority has launched new initiatives to help businesses that are struggling during this time. The #LoveMiDowntown drawing contest asks kids to complete a drawing of Downtown Plymouth and, with the help of an adult, share their creation on the Michigan Downtown Association’s Facebook page. Projects are due by April 3, and winners will receive a $25 gift card to a business of their choice in the city’s downtown area. A Takeout Tuesday contest is also being held, in which those who order $50 or more of carryout food from one or more restaurants in Downtown Plymouth have the chance to win a $25 Plymouth gift certificate. Receipts must be emailed to dda@plymouthmi.gov, and more information can be found on the Downtown Development Authority’s website. [Downtown Plymouth

So far, the TCF Center’s transformation into a field hospital is tracking to be one of the fastest builds in the U.S., according to officials with the project. In part, they say technology features added during the $279 million renovations of the convention center have allowed those tasked with the build-out to work quickly. Once complete, the 1,000-bed site will cater exclusively to COVID-19 patients. [TCF Center

A day after General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles released their first-quarter sales reports, Ford Motor Co. is reporting that its sales declined 12.5% during the first quarter of 2020. In total, the automaker sold 516, 330 vehicles in the U.S. Despite the disruption from the coronavirus, Ford’s inventory levels remain strong and Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales, and Service at Ford, says he’s never been prouder of his team. “Our Ford team is working around the clock on everything from building healthcare equipment, assisting our dealership network, and providing our customers peace of mind through deferred vehicle payments,” he says. [Ford Motor Co.

Detroit television stations — including WJBK-TV, WDIV-TV, WXYZ-TV, WKBD-TV, WTVS-TV, and WWJ-TV — will broadcast a live Governor’s Town Hall from 7-8 p.m. tonight. Hosted by news anchors Carolyn Clifford, Huel Perkins, and Devin Scillian, the program will give viewers the chance to ask Gov. Whitmer, who will join in from Lansing, questions about the ongoing crisis.  

The Detroit Pistons and Wayne County, along with several corporate partners such as Lineage Logistics and United Dairy Industry of Michigan, are providing a $375,000 grant to nonprofit food recovery Forgotten Harvest. Tom Gores, the owner of the Pistons, says the team is working on multiple collaborative COVID-19 relief initiatives right now. [Detroit Pistons / Forgotten Harvest

According to realtor.com’s March Housing Trends Report, the U.S. housing market showed signs of slowing in the second half of March — hinting that sellers may be rethinking listing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The U.S. housing market had a good start to the year,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist with the site. “Despite still-limited homes for sale, buyers were buying and builders were building. The pandemic and virus-fighting measures appear to be disrupting that initial momentum as both buyers and sellers adopt a more cautious posture.” The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn market saw an 11.3% decrease in its active listing count year over year. Locally, the median listing price in March was $239,950. [Realtor.com

Warren-based MichBusiness is offering new resources to help locals navigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on their business. The organization, which has aided small businesses in Michigan for more than 30 years, has launched COVID-19 business resources, newsletters, and webinars and online discussion groups that cover topics such as digital communications, leading during a crisis, anxiety and stress at work, and layoff protocol. [MichBusiness

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