Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 13

A quick look at what’s happening locally
townsend hotel
The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham is permanently closing its bakery. Officials with the hotel described the pandemic as “very difficult and unprecedented times.” // Photograph courtesy of The Townsend Hotel

John Hopkins University is now reporting 1.386 million COVID-19 cases and 83,648 deaths in the U.S. While many states are now partially reopened or preparing to reopen, others are planning to maintain stay-at-home orders and strict social distancing practices longer. In his press conference today, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that officials who were reopening faster than the science and data dictate “weren’t elected [to] do what’s easy,” CNN reports. “You were elected to do what’s right,” he said. Meanwhile, in California, in-person classes aren’t likely to resume this fall at California State University schools and the University of California campuses. And, a stay-at-home order is expected to be in place for months in Los Angeles County. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 370 new COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths. In total, the state has seen 48,391 cases and 4,714 deaths. []

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shared a model during her press conference today that showed that without intervention the state could have seen 32,000 more cases of the coronavirus to date. Additionally, it is estimated that the state could have seen 3,480 more deaths to date. “If we had not taken the action that we did, more people would have died and the disease would have spread much further than it has,” she said. The model was prepared by the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The governor also shared that the state is now averaging nearly 11,600 tests a day. Of those tests, 6% are now coming back positive — the lowest the number has been since March. Michigan is now considered seventh in the country when looking at daily tests. The governor was joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief deputy for health and chief medical executive. She was also joined by Maureen Francis, president of the Michigan Realtors Association, and Rachel Lutz, owner of the Peacock Room. Watch the entire conference on the Michigan State Police Facebook page. [Facebook: Michigan State Police]

The Detroit News reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning protestors ahead of a rally planned at the Capitol building tomorrow against Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders. Nessel’s office is prepared to prosecute actions such as brandishing of weapons, trespassing into the legislative chambers, and disorderly conduct. [Detroit News]

In an interview with ABC’s The View todayWhitmer also said that if protests continue, it could lengthen Michigan’s social-distancing restrictions. “These protests, they do undermine the effort, and it’s very clearly a political statement that is playing out where people are coming together from across the state, they are congregating, they’re not wearing masks, they are not staying six feet apart, and then they go back home into communities and the risk of perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 is real,” she said. To watch the interview, click here. [ABC News

During his press conference today, Mayor Mike Duggan said that Detroit has now seen 1,220 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March, but the number of new cases is falling each week. “We are continuing to beat this,” Duggan said. “We haven’t seen a sign of it spiking back up.” According to the mayor, two-thirds of the city’s employees are now back to work. Since May 11, the city has tested 260 of its employees. A majority of these employees are in the Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Fire Department, while others work for the Detroit Department of Transportation and other city departments. Three of those tests have come back positive. Duggan also shared an update on the Michigan State Fairground testing site. Starting Thursday, the city will offer free testing at the site to those age 60 and up who are city residents. No prescription is required. Watch the entire conference on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government]

The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham has permanently closed its bakery. Officials with the hotel described the pandemic as “very difficult and unprecedented times.” Steven Kalczynski, managing director of the Townsend Hotel, says “I can’t tell you how distraught I am to announce that The Townsend Bakery is now closed permanently. The staff, management, and customers throughout the last 27 years have been amazing and I feel honored to have worked with such a great team of people.” [The Townsend Hotel]

The state of Michigan is participating in the federal Unemployment Insurance Agency Work Share program, which will allow the state to keep employees working reduced hours while employees collect partial unemployment benefits. From May 17 to July 25, impacted state employees will take two temporary layoff days per pay period. The move is expected to help offset budget implications from the pandemic, resulting in $80 million in decreased wage costs. “As we continue to combat COVID-19, it’s clear that we’re facing unprecedented challenges that will lead to serious budget implications for the state of Michigan,” says Gov. Whitmer. “Utilizing this federal program keeps state employees working so they can continue to provide critical services to Michiganders and protects their paychecks so they can continue to support their families.” []

A video shot from the cockpit of a U.S. Navy Blue Angel shows the 5/1-18 hornets’ journey over downtown Detroit on Tuesday. The flyover honored healthcare workers and other essential workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic. Watch the video, here. [MLive]

A day after the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flew into town, the Michigan National Guard’s Michigan Strong Flyover swept over the area to honor frontline COVID-19 workers. The flyover started around 2:58 p.m. over Novi Hospital and ended around 3:33 p.m. over Chesterfield Twp. [Michigan National Guard]

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has launched new initiatives and expanded others to help support economic recovery during the pandemic. The organization’s new MI Local Biz program will allow small businesses in the state to raise funds through a crowdfunding model. MEDC will match dollars raised. The Match on Main program has been expanded to provide funds to community organizations in traditional downtown neighborhoods across Michigan amid the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the new Reopen Main Street website offers resources for downtown businesses. “Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and we are deploying every resource possible to support the recovery efforts of these businesses, while providing communities with resources to engage in economic recovery efforts,” says MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. [Michigan Economic Development Corp.]

According to the Unemployment Insurance Agency, 1.72 million Michiganders have applied for state and federal benefits since March 15, and $5.62 billion in benefits has been paid to 1,374,751 workers. []

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