Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 1

A quick look at what’s happening locally
gretchen whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy for health and chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at a press conference today. The governor announced that construction, some real estate activities, and other work primarily done outdoors can resume May 7. // Photograph courtesy of Gov. Whitmer

The CDC is now reporting 1.062 million COVID-19 cases and 62,406 deaths in the U.S. Today, the last patients were discharged or transferred from the field hospital at New York City’s Javits Convention Center, Major League Soccer announced that players may begin using outdoor team training facilities for individual workouts starting May 6, and the NBA postponed its Draft Lottery and Draft Combine. The NBA’s draft is still set for June 25. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 977 new COVID-19 cases and 77 deaths. To date, the state has seen 42,356 cases and 3,866 deaths. [Michigan.gov]

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today to reopen construction, some real estate activities, and other work that is primarily performed outdoors on May 7. Under the order, construction industry and trade workers — such as plumbers, HVAC technicians, and similar tradespeople — can resume their jobs, and real estate showings by appointment — limited to no more than four people on the premise at a time — may begin again. Those returning to work must adopt new best practices to protect workers, including designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies, conducting daily health screenings and creating dedicated entry points or using other indicators to assure that said screenings take place, identifying high-risk areas and controlling them to enable social distancing, and ensuring sufficient hand washing or hand sanitization at work sites. Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order is still in effect until May 15, and residents must not leave their homes except to run critical errands, engage in safe outdoor activities, or to go to specified jobs. “As part of our MI Safe Start Plan, we are bringing business and labor leaders together to ensure that while we lift some restrictions on the previous Stay Home, Stay Safe order, we are also protecting workers and their families from the spread of this virus,” Whitmer says. “I want to be clear: we must all continue to stay home and stay safe as much as possible.” [Michigan.gov]

At his press conference today, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan shared that the city has seen 1,045 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic hit locally. That number is nine higher than yesterday. Duggan anticipates that a quarter to a third of all the deaths in the city will have occurred at the nursing homes or senior living centers by the time the coronavirus passes. There are now more than 800 empty hospital beds in Detroit. “They continue to be empty at a rate I’ve never seen in my life,” he said. The Michigan State Fairgrounds testing site tested more than 1,000 people in one day for the first time yesterday. With high temperatures in the forecast for the weekend, also Duggan encouraged residents to continue strict social distancing practices. “All of the police commanders I know are committed to very vigorous enforcement this weekend with any groups,” he said. Watch the entire conference on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government]

Following protests at the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing yesterday and the Michigan Legislature’s refusal to extend the state of emergency, Gov. Whitmer signed new emergency and disaster declarations last night. “Today I signed new emergency and disaster declarations using independent sources of statutory authority to make sure our healthcare workers and first responders have the tools they need to save lives and protect Michiganders,” she said in a press release. “We’re all in this together. Defeating COVID-19 is an all hands on deck moment for our state, and I remain hopeful that Republicans in the legislature will stop the partisan games and start working with me to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.” Trump disapproved of Whitmer over Twitter today. “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” he tweeted. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.” Notably, many of the protestors at the Capitol building appeared to be Trump supporters. As pointed out by actress Mia Farrow in response to Trump’s tweet, protestors were also carrying semi-automatic weapons. Mari Copeny, a young activist known as “Little Miss Flint,” tweeted back saying, “Sorry we don’t negotiate with terrorists and thugs.” According to CNN, the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s tweets later today, stating that the president was defending the First Amendment right to protest. [Twitter: Donald J. Trump]

Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao visited General Motor Co.’s Kokomo, Indiana, plant yesterday to take a tour of the facility’s ventilator production and testing lines. Pence said that he couldn’t be “more inspired” by the work at the facility, which has produced more than 600 Ventec Life Systems ventilators in a month. “We are incredibly grateful to our team and everyone who has supported this lifesaving work and we appreciate the support and encouragement of Vice President Pence, [Inidana] Gov. Holcomb, and Secretary Chao,” says Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM. [General Motors Co.]

Michigan has received approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide housing alternatives to people experiencing homelessness who may need to quarantine or are considered high-risk for severe illness from the coronavirus. The state will work with local partners to provide housing in hotels or other facilities to people who test positive for COVID-19 and need to be isolated, have been exposed to the coronavirus and are told by a healthcare professional to quarantine, or are considered high-risk because of age or underlying health conditions. “Individuals who are homeless always face health risks, but the risk is so much greater because of COVID-19 — for them and for their communities,” says Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “These hotel units can reduce infection rates and save lives.” [Michigan Department of Health and Human Services]

The state of Michigan has been approved for nearly $390 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to address the impact the pandemic has had on schools. The funding comes from the national $13.2 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, which is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security — better known as CARES — Act. To be considered for funding, Michigan school districts can fill out an online application detailing their educational needs, among other things. The funding, according to the U.S. Department of Education, may be used for activities such as purchasing educational technology, planning and coordinating long-term closures, purchasing supplies to sanitize school facilities, and proving mental health services. Application guidelines and eligibility criteria will be released in the coming weeks. [Michigan Department of Education]

More than one-third of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. dealers are now using the company’s Online Retailing Experience (ORE) to help customers shop for and purchase new vehicles during the pandemic. According to officials with the Auburn Hills-based company, 20% of new sales leads come from online retail. This time last year, that number was only 1%. “We accelerated the introduction of ORE to help our dealers who were hampered by state mandates to shut down their new vehicle sales operations and showrooms amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” says U.S. Head of Sales Jeff Kommor. “The response has been phenomenal. Dealers are reaching new consumers while developing a different set of customer-relations skills since many of the transactions are now being completed in a customer’s driveway rather than [a] showroom.” [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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