Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 27

A quick look at what’s happening locally
wayne state university - covid-19
Wayne State University, pictured above, is hosting a virtual graduation celebration. The university has had to postpone its spring commencement ceremony due to the pandemic. // Photograph courtesy of Wayne State University

The CDC is now reporting 957,875 COVID-19 cases and 53,922 deaths in the U.S. While stocks in the country closed higher today, the federal government is still looking for ways to support the economy. Another $310 billion is being added to the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan initiative for small businesses that reopened today after it ran out of money earlier this month. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, more money is expected to be approved for state and local government relief as well. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit: 

 The state of Michigan today reported 432 new COVID-19 cases and 92 deaths. So far, the state has seen 38,210 cases and 3,407 deaths. [Michigan.gov]

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was joined by Dr. Raj Vattikuti, CEO of Altimetrik and the nonprofit Vattikuti Foundation, via video during his press conference today. Vattikuti has donated $400,000 so the city can continue its COVID-19 testing of senior citizens. “The 200 deaths we have experienced at the nursing homes have been very painful for all of us,” Duggan said, “but we have a hundred other facilities — adult foster care centers, assisted living facilities, senior citizen housing — where, while we don’t have the same indications of infection, we have the same vulnerable population, and we are very anxious to move through those 100 buildings and test all these individuals.” To begin, the donation will bring 10,000 onsite COVID-19 tests to the city’s more than 126 nursing homes and senior assisted living facilities. The testing deployment teams will be managed by the Global Health Initiative at Henry Ford Health System. Duggan went on to announce a new $8 million program by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency to help low-income residents with things such as food, utility bills, funeral expenses. The mayor also shared new workplace standards for city employees, which includes temperature checks, social distancing at work, and required masks. Watch the entire conference on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

Wayne State University will host a virtual graduation celebration on April 29. As part of the digital experience, students and their families can enjoy Instagram and Facebook frames, Facebook and Twitter cover photos, digital e-cards, video degree conferral messages, and a commencement booklet. President M. Roy Wilson, Provost Keith Whitfield, Board of Governors Chair Marilyn Kelly, and the deans of select schools and colleges are also putting together video messages to be published on the university’s commencement website. A formal commencement for this semester’s graduating students will take place at a later date. [Wayne State University

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today that extends all personal protection orders that were set to expire during the pandemic. Immediately in effect, law enforcement agencies must extend the validity of the protection orders to July 21 of this year. “Michiganders who file for personal protection orders due to threats, stalking, and abuse should have peace of mind in their homes during the ongoing health crisis,” Whitmer says. “By extending the expiration of existing personal protection orders, we are helping secure the safety of vulnerable residents as we continue to flatten the curve and plan for Michigan’s resurgence.” [Michigan.gov]

Royal Oak-based Clean Planet Foods is donating 10% of the proceeds from its new line of microwavable meals to organizations helping people experiencing food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis. “We moved the launch date of our quick heat-and-enjoy meals forward out of a sense of urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jack Aronson, founder of Clean Planet Foods. The preservative-free meals are available for $4 each and come in options such as grilled chicken and broccoli over rice, cheese tortellini with tomato sauce, and a veggies and rice vegetarian bowl. [Clean Planet Foods

Eastern Michigan University alumni group GameAbove is donating at least $2 million to the Ypsilanti school’s graduating students through its new Pay-it-Forward fund. As part of this initiative, each of Eastern’s 2,270 graduating students will receive $600, and this fall’s incoming freshman will each receive $400. Recipients will not be required to pay back the money. “This special graduating class deserves this recognition and our full attention,” says Keith J. Stone, a GameAbove advisory board member. “The current pandemic has already tested their resolve to deal with very challenging times in our world of fear and loss. This recent life experience will certainly strengthen their lives forever as they move forward, seeking new hope and lasting successes beyond our wildest imagination. [GameAbove

Travel and tourism organization Pure Michigan is launching a new campaign — called Two Peninsulas, One Pure Michigan — that focuses on unity in the state during the pandemic. Thanks to a donation, the organization will show uplifting messages on 55 digital billboards across the state. The michigan.org website is also offering downloadable worksheets for kids to use during homeschooling, digital postcard templates that can be shared on social media, and videos of the state’s outdoor activities. Pure Michigan is also donating $5 from every Two Peninsulas, One Pure Michigan shirt purchase — available through The Mitten State — to the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund. [Pure Michigan]

Ferndale-based Valentine Distilling Co. is giving back during the pandemic by manufacturing a new hand sanitizer product called Royal Clean and by raising money for hospitality workers. Recently, the company’s Mayor Pingree Cask Club raised $12,000 by selling bottles of a 12-year-old single barrel of bourbon. The money will go to organizations such as the Great Lakes Spirits Fund, which supports the state’s beverage service workers. “This is an opportunity to help out, by leveraging both our rare and exceptional whiskey inventory and our fanatical Mayor Pingree supporters to assist our colleagues in the beverage hospitality industry,” says Justin Aden, the distiller and blender of Valentine. [Valentine Distilling Co.

Punch Bowl Social, a national chain that serves American fare and craft cocktails and offers games such as bowling, has permanently laid off 97 staffers at its downtown Detroit restaurant. The eatery, located at 1331 Broadway St., does plan to reopen but will rehire when it does so. [Detroit News

 One in five Detroiters say they will run out of money in the next three months due to the coronavirus, according to new results from the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study. The survey also found that 35% of Detroiters employed full-time or part-time before March 1 lost their jobs, 46% reported decreasing in their spending, and 97% have made at least one behavioral change in response to the pandemic. Officials with the survey hope that the findings help inform policy responses that help the community. [Detroit Metro Area Communities Study

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released a statement today after she was altered that some employers in the state were finding it difficult to provide face coverings for their employees. As part of Gov. Whitmer’s latest Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, employers must provide masks, but they are finding it difficult to do so given that they’re in short supply. “I am asking our law enforcement partners around the state to consider the good faith efforts of businesses that have tried, but have been unsuccessful, in obtaining appropriate face coverings when deciding whether to take criminal enforcement action against a non-compliant business,” Nessel said. “While businesses work diligently to find appropriate face coverings to meet the requirements of the executive order, I urge employees that can safely do so to use their own face coverings as protection until businesses provide face coverings as required by the Governor’s order.” [Department of Attorney General

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