Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 3

A quick look at what’s happening locally
bedrock detroit - covid-19
The Stott is just one of the participating buildings in Bedrock Detroit’s initiative to honor local essential workers by brightening up the city’s skyline with red, white, and blue lights. // Photograph courtesy of Bedrock Detroit

The CDC reports that, as of April 6, there are 239,279 COVID-19 cases and 5,433 deaths in the U.S. The numbers continue to rise drastically, especially in states such as New York, New Jersey, California, and Michigan. Despite earlier recommendations that masks were not necessary for the general public, The Washington Post reports that the White House is expected to urge Americans to begin wearing cloth masks and face coverings in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Locally, state and city officials are doing the same. Here’s what else is happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan reported 1,953 new COVID-19 cases and 62 deaths today. In total, there has been 12,744 cases and 479 deaths. []

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today signed an executive order that protects workers who stay home if they or someone they are in close contact with test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms of the disease. Under the order, employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining, or retaliating against these employees. The order is in effect until the end of Whitmer’s declared emergency or unless it is rescinded. []

In a video filmed live at the Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Oakland County Executive David Coulter highlighted several pilots prior to their trip to Muncie, Indiana, today to pick up more than 12,000 face shields that will be used by first responders and healthcare workers in Michigan. Coulter also gave updates on the status of Oakland County, which now has more than 2,500 positive COVID-19 cases and 135 deaths. And while the debate of whether folks should wear masks in public is still ongoing, Coulter did encourage residents to begin wearing soft masks. [Facebook: Executive Office, Oakland Count, Michigan]

In his daily news conference at Eastern Market, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan urged locals to take social distancing measures seriously, suggesting that Detroit could be the next New York City — the city that has been most impacted by COVID-19 in the U.S. — if Detroiters do not comply with the governor’s executive order. Like Coulter, Duggan encouraged residents to start wearing masks when out in public spaces and acknowledged the passing of Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove, who tested positive for COVID-19 after vocalizing his concerns online about driving with coughing passengers. Of course, Duggan continued to focus on the need to get as many Detroiters tested as possible, and he shared that on April 6 the city will begin offering $2 rides — although, you won’t be turned away if you don’t have the money — to its testing site at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The entire conference can be viewed on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government]

The Wayne County Public Health Division has launched a new digital dashboard, which can be viewed here, in an effort to make the county’s COVID-19 data more accessible. Updated daily at 5 p.m., the dashboard outlines a color-coded map of case and death counts, demographic charts, and both daily and cumulative numbers. All Wayne County cities are included in the dashboard, except for Detroit, which reports its COVID-19 data at [Wayne County]

Starting this evening, buildings across the city of Detroit will glow red, white, and blue. A partnership between Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit and sites such as TCF Center, the Penobscot Building, The Stott, and Ford Field, the move is meant to honor the essential workers keeping the community safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative will continue until the end of Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, and locals are encouraged to get involved by swapping a light outside their home to red or blue. [Bedrock Detroit]

The Michigan Paycheck Protection Program website has launched to help small businesses during this time. Starting today, Michigan businesses may access the site — — to apply for $349 billion in forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. “All across Michigan, small businesses and families are doing their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but this unprecedented time has, understandably, created uncertainty for many employers,” says Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “That’s why we are working to make it as easy as possible for even the smallest businesses to apply for additional funding with the launch of the Michigan Paycheck Protection Program website.” The website is a collaborative effort between the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and Michigan Small Business Development Center. [Michigan Paycheck Protection Program]  

A new report by Castlight Health, Inc., a company based in San Francisco that offers tools to navigate the healthcare system, has found that metro Detroit is one of the top areas in the country to face a scarcity of intensive care units. The metro area also already had high ventilator use before the spread of COVID-19. The report — which also found that the Washington D.C., New York City, Seattle, Atlanta, and Dallas metro areas also ranked high in lacking resources — surveyed more than 6 million commercially-insured folks to identify these trends. [Castlight Health, Inc.]  

Grand Rapids-based Meijer has started daily health screenings of its employees that work at its nearly 250 stores — many of which are in metro Detroit — and various facilities. Employees are required to have their temperature taken before starting their shift, and they must complete a health assessment. Those who have recently traveled internationally or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to work for 14 days. Employees exhibiting symptoms, who are therefore unable to work, will still be paid through the Meijer COVID-19 Pay Continuation Program. [Meijer]