Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 11

A quick look at what’s happening locally
ben and jerry's - ice cream
Ben & Jerry’s plans to give away a quarter million scoops of ice cream to front line workers across the country. // Photograph courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

As of this afternoon, John Hopkins University is reporting 1.34 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 79,935 deaths in the U.S. After it was verified that two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus, three U.S. health officials — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — are entering a full or partial quarantine. Both Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump are now reportedly being tested for COVID-19 daily. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:  

The state of Michigan today reported 414 new COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths. In total, the state has seen 47,552 cases and 4,584 deaths. [Michigan.gov

“I want to thank Rihanna,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her afternoon press conference today. “Yes, that Rihanna and her Clara Lionel Foundation and Jack Dorsey’s Start Small Fund for stepping up to help groups in Detroit and Flint on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The singer and the CEO of Twitter teamed up to provide $3.2 million in grants to over 20 essential nonprofits in Michigan. During the press conference, Whitmer also took a moment to answer some of the top questions her office has been getting about the pandemic. She spoke about the importance of not allowing small gatherings during this time — even if your group of friends or family members don’t appear to be sick. “Every one of us responds to this virus differently,” she said. “You could be carrying COVID-19 and not even know it.” Whitmer also spoke about why regions with lower case counts must follow the stay-at-home order. “COVID-19 is still present in 79 out of 83 counties. It is still a real presence all across our state, and accordingly, it is still a threat.” Watch the entire conference on the Michigan State Police Facebook page. [Facebook: Michigan State Police

In his press conference today, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan shared that the city saw 41 COVID-19 deaths between May 2-8. Among the recent deaths is Antoinette Bell, an immunization advocate with the Detroit Health Department. “She was a huge part of our community’s response,” said Duggan. The mayor also said that the city of Detroit is weeks away from being ready to move from phase three to phase four of Gov. Whitmer’s six-phase reopening plan. In phase four, lower-risk businesses such as retail and some offices can reopen with strict safety measures. In the next week, the city will bring back another 150 to 200 employees. Among those returning are building inspectors, construction inspectors, lawyers in the city’s law department, and housing repair workers. The mayor also highlighted the success of the city’s Feed the Front Lines program, which has now delivered 20,000 meals to front line workers in Detroit. Rather than daily briefings, the mayor said that his press conferences will now take place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Watch today’s entire briefing on the Facebook page for the City of Detroit Government. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

Experts with the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation say that disruptions to food supply chains, employment, and social services during the pandemic may worsen food security disparities in the U.S. According to new results from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, which was carried out by the institute, older adults with lower household incomes and lower levels of education were more likely to say they had trouble getting food. “These data suggest an important opportunity, which is likely even more urgent now, to connect older adults with resources they may not know about, and to explore public policies that could improve access,” says Cindy Leung, a member of IHPI and assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the U-M School of Public Health who worked on the poll. [University of Michigan

As its storefronts reopen in the coming weeks for takeout and delivery, Ben & Jerry’s plans to give away a quarter million scoops of ice cream to front line workers. The ice cream company is launching Project Joy, an initiative in which its scoop shops across the country will deliver ice cream to local hospitals, fire stations, and nursing homes. “It’s the Ben & Jerry-est way to say, ‘thank you’ to the essential workers who’ve kept everyone safe and fed during the coronavirus pandemic,” says Matt Arthur of the Ben & Jerry’s on State Street in Ann Arbor. [Ben & Jerry’s

U.S. Navy Blue Angles are heading to metro Detroit tomorrow. The aircraft will fly over the area to salute and thank healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential front line workers. Starting at 11:30 a.m., the Blue Angels will fly into Sutton Lake then loop up toward the Shelby Charter Twp. area around 11:47 before exiting out near the Detroit Airport at 11:51 a.m. In total, the flyover will last 21 minutes. [United States Navy Blue Angels

Grand Rapids-based Meijer has procured and started distributing 750,000 KN95 face masks to front line workers in the Midwest. Among those benefiting from the donation are government agencies, hospital systems, law enforcement agencies, and other first responders in Macomb and Oakland Counties as well as those with the City of Detroit and the Michigan State Police. [Meijer

Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan’s 8th district held a virtual panel today with Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois’ 14th district on how media platforms and conspiracies are contributing to misinformation about the coronavirus and how policy leaders can respond to this trend. The panel — which was held on the Homeland Security Committee Events Youtube channel — featured Renée DiResta, a research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, and Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program. To watch the live recording of the panel, click here. [Youtube: Homeland Security Committee Events

The Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center, a nonprofit located at 5635 W. Fort St. in Southwest Detroit, is now offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing to residents who are exhibiting symptoms of the virus and live in the 48209, 48210, or 48216 zip code area. Appointments are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and they must be made in advance. To make an appointment, residents can call the center at 313-849-3920. During this time, the center is also seeking 1,000 disposable gowns. Donations can be made by contacting CHASS Center CEO, Dr. Felix M. Valbuena, Jr., at 313-849-3920 ext. 5016 or fvalbuena@chasscenter.org. [CHASS Center]  

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