Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 15

An Emergency Department employee at Henry Ford embarks on an ambitious photo project to honor her colleagues, Gov. Whitmer announces a new council will plan how schools will reopen, and Mayor Mike Duggan is optimistic Detroit will bounce back
henry ford - covid-19
A unit clerk in the Emergency Department at Henry Ford Hospital is photographing her colleagues during the pandemic and creating digital collages. // Photograph courtesy of Henry Ford Health System

John Hopkins University is now reporting 1.432 million cases of COVID-19 and 86,851 deaths in the U.S. Today, President Donald Trump unveiled Operation Warp Speed, an effort aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. Tonight, the House of Representatives is expected to vote to allow remote voting and virtual hearings for the first time in its history. The House will also vote on a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package. The package, which Trump says he will veto, includes nearly $1 trillion for state, local, and tribal government as well as another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 497 new COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths. So far, the state has seen 50,079 cases and 4,825 deaths. [

In a press conference today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Return to Learning Advisory Council, which will formalize a plan for determining how Michigan schools may reopen in the fall. The more than 20-member council will be comprised of students, parents, frontline educators, administrators, and public health officials, and the state is partnering with the nonprofit Opportunity Labs to bring national expertise to the project. “This panel will use a data-informed and science-based approach with input from epidemiologists to determine if, when, and how students can return to school this fall and what that will look like,” Whitmer said in a press release. Those interested in serving on the council can fill out an application at During the conference, Whitmer also shared the state is now administering an average of 14,255 COVID-19 tests a day. The state still ranks seventh in the nation in terms of daily tests. Watch the entire conference on the Michigan State Police Facebook page. [Facebook: Michigan State Police]  

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan shared in a press conference today that the city has now lost 1,243 Detroiters to COVID-19. Earlier this week, the city announced that it would offer free testing to residents 60 and older at the Michigan State Fairgrounds site. The mayor says this will continue next week as well, and hopes that “in the not too distant future” that free testing can be opened up to every Detroiter, regardless of age. “Separating the infectious from the non-infectious with testing is the centerpiece,” he said. Eventually, Duggan wants to build up to having a main testing site at the fairgrounds as well as a network of community testing sites throughout Detroit so residents can get tested closer to their home. Watch the entire conference on the City of Detroit Government Facebook page. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reportedly diverting millions of dollars in federal funding — intended mostly for public schools and colleges to weather the coronavirus pandemic — to private and religious schools. So far, The New York Times says DeVos has set aside about $350 million to help small colleges, many of which are private and religious, regardless of need. [The New York Times

Over the past two months, Mary Cuevas, a unit clerk in the Emergency Department at Henry Ford Hospital, has amassed a collection of more than 49,000 photos of her colleagues to create what she’s calling “This Moment in Time.” The photos — which Cuevas takes within 12 inches of each person’s face — feature doctors, nurses, technicians, housekeepers, patient advocates, security officers, and more wearing PPE. From the collection, Cuevas is now creating digital mosaic photographs of each person’s face mask image superimposed over a mosaic of the other face mask photos. “I wanted them to have something that they could say, ‘these are the people that we fought the virus with’. Seeing people through their eyes really tells the story,” Cuevas says. “You see strength in those eyes. You see uncertainty. You see intimidation. Some have signs of relief. Some have signs of joy. Some have sorrow looks. Some have intensity looks. It holds a huge story for me in one photo.” [Henry Ford Health System

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C., to come together to pass a plan to aid states in their recovery from the pandemic. “None of us can afford for this to devolve into a partisan issue,” she says. “President Trump called this a war, and it is exactly that. So we must act like it.” [Washington Post

Whirlpool Corp., a home appliance company located on the west side of Michigan in Benton Harbor, is collaborating with Dow and Reynolds Consumer Products to produce a headgear and respirator system that’s manufactured and sold through WIN Health Labs. An initial donation will be made to hospitals. Whirlpool Corp. designed, manufactured, and assembled the headset. “We recognize the bravery and commitment of healthcare workers throughout this crisis,” says Marc Bitzer, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool. “Working with Dow and Reynolds, we are honored to provide this critical equipment to frontline healthcare workers to help them protect themselves and their patients while they battle this pandemic.” [Whirlpool Corp.

While Detroit is facing a $350 million deficit, Mayor Mike Duggan is still optimistic that the city will bounce back after the coronavirus crisis. Sitting down with Local 4 WDIV’s Kimberly Gill, the mayor says that it will be possible to reopen most businesses safely. [Click on Detroit

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Emma Klug is a senior editor and digital content coordinator at Hour Detroit. In her role, Klug writes and edits stories on community, art, food, and lifestyle topics for, edits the Hour Daily newsletter, and is involved in planning and proofing the monthly print magazine. She also oversees the editorial web internship program for the magazine. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Klug has been with Hour Detroit since 2016. She has also contributed to Hour Media publications DBusiness magazine and Metro Detroit Weddings magazine. You can reach her at