Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: April 9

A quick look at what’s happening locally
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gov whitmer stay home stay safe - covid-19
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, pictured above at a press conference on April 9, has extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order in Michigan until April 30. Whitmer has also launched the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. // Photograph courtesy of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Today marks 100 days since the World Health Organization was first notified about the coronavirus, and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says there have been more than 1.3 million cases and nearly 80,000 deaths around the globe. In the U.S., the CDC is now reporting that there are 427,460 positive COVID-19 cases and 14,696 deaths. While the curve has started to flatten in some areas, government officials are still taking the coronavirus and social distancing measures seriously. According to reporting by CNN, on April 9, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson decided to close all city parks for Easter weekend, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state’s schools will stay closed for at least another month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told citizens of the country to expect more weeks of sheltering in place, and Spain extended its state of emergency until April 26. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 1,158 new cases of COVID-19 and 117 deaths. That brings the state’s total to 21,504 cases and 1,076 deaths. [Michigan.gov]

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-42, which extends Stay Home, Stay Safe until April 30. “This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Whitmer says. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension.” Like the initial executive order, 2020-42 requires that all workers who are not considered essential stay home during this time. Gatherings and travel are also limited. New to this order are stricter restrictions on Michigan retailers. Starting today, there may be no more than four customers for every 1,000 square feet of public floor space in a store, small stores must limit their capacity by 25%, and marked lines must be established to help patrons stand at least six feet apart while checking out. The order also requires that larger retailers close areas of their store that are meant for non-essential goods, such as carpeting, furniture, and gardening sections. [Michigan.gov]

Reports show that while only 14% of Michiganders are African American, more than 40% of those who have died from the coronavirus in the state are African American. To combat this, Whitmer has launched the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The task force, which will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and consist of state government leaders and healthcare professionals from areas most impacted by the coronavirus, will provide Whitmer with recommendations on how to address the disparity. “This virus is holding a mirror up to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in this country,” she says. “From basic lack of access to healthcare, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest.” [Michigan.gov]

Finally, Whitmer announced today that Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health, and Detroit Medical Center are partnering to provide critical support, staffing, and resources at the new TCF Center Regional Care Center. The 1,000-bed alternate care facility will accept its first 25 COVID-19 patients on April 10. Most of the center’s staff will be provided via the Public Health Strike Team through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additional trained medical professionals who wish to volunteer can visit michigan.gov/fightcovid19 to get involved. [Michigan.gov]

The Detroit Pistons and City of Detroit have collaborated on a public service announcement to encourage locals to practice smart social distancing behavior. In the video, narrator Rick Mahorn, an original Pistons’ Bad Boy and current radio analyst, tells viewers that the winning strategy for getting through the coronavirus pandemic is to “take the #HomeCourtAdvantage.” “If we’re going to beat COVID-19, we have to change the rules,” Mahorn says in the video, which features scenes of Downtown Detroit and moments from Detroit Pistons games. “We have to stay home. We have to stay disciplined.” [Detroit Pistons / City of Detroit]

Detroit Mayor Mike began his press conference at Eastern Market today by remembering Detroit Fire Department Captain Franklin Williams, who died yesterday from COVID-19. Williams was a 31-year veteran of the department. “He meant a great deal to this department,” Duggan said, “and will be terribly missed.” Duggan also shared that 11 people have died from COVID-19 in Detroit nursing homes, and the city will be using its 15-minute tests in the nursing homes. The quick tests will also be used to test Detroit’s homeless population for the coronavirus. Visit the City of Detroit Government Facebook page to watch the entire conference. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government]

As demands increase for PPE, GM is ramping up its production capacity for face masks at its plant in Warren. The facility, which is already set up to produce up to 1.5 million face masks a month, will add two additional production lines this weekend. One line will focus on face masks while another will focus on filtering face-piece respirators. The Detroit auto company has also shared its manufacturing plans with its suppliers to help other manufacturers increase their production levels. [General Motors Co.]

Officials with GM have also shared that the company has invested $2.65 million in 40 nonprofits amid the coronavirus pandemic. The DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning Program, which received a $1 million grant, is among those GM has invested in. The program connects students with resources to learn at home. The company also recognized its more than 2,100 employees who have volunteered during this time. According to GM, 931 salaried employees have volunteered to manufacture and deliver PPE, 178 employees have donated more than $14,000 to DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning and United Way, and 1,051 are involved in the American Red Cross’ SleevesUp campaign, which encourages blood donations. [General Motors Co.]

Living Arts, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides arts education initiatives to local youth and families, has launched a crowdfunding campaign at fundly.com. The nonprofit is seeking $200,000 in donations to help weather the short-term financial gap Living Arts is facing as well as support its teaching artists, who can’t work due to school closures. In an email, Alissa Novoselick, executive director of Living Arts, said that as a result of COVID-19, the nonprofit has had to cancel its major fundraising event, close its programs, and end in-person gatherings. [Living Arts]

Wayne State University’s Mort Harris Recreation & Fitness Center has launched online programs that students, faculty, and staff can access while the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order is in effect. Called Activity at Home, the website’s live group fitness classes include yoga, meditation, and Pilates. The recreation and fitness center is also uploading trainer-led workout videos with to its YouTube channel, and it’s launched an esports league. [Wayne State University]

The Food Bank Council of Michigan is coordinating a statewide virtual food drive to assist those who find themselves without food during the COVID-19 pandemic. To contribute, participants can visit michiganfooddrive.org to shop for food or make a direct donation. They can also choose which regional food bank receives the donation. Funds and food that are not specified to a certain area will be distributed by the council. [The Food Bank Council of Michigan]

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