Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 21

Gov. Whitmer allows gatherings of 10 people or fewer, President Trump visits a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, and the Michigan Brewers Guild cancels its Summer Beer Festival
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gretchen whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced at a press conference today that groups of 10 people or fewer can now gather, so long as participants practice social distancing. // Photograph courtesy of Gov. Whitmer

John Hopkins University is reporting 1.56 million COVID-19 cases and 93,863 deaths in the U.S. By the first week of June, schools in Alabama, Universal Orlando Resort, and wedding and banquet venues in Ohio — with a 300-person limit — may reopen. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 501 new COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths. Following a review of old death certificates, today’s numbers include 31 additional deaths. So far, the state has seen 53,510 cases and 5,129 deaths. [Michigan.gov]

Despite Ford Motor Co.’s protocol requiring face masks to be worn inside its factories, President Trump was not wearing one when he arrived at the auto company’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti today. According to the Detroit News, during his visit, the president toured the factory, which has been repurposed to manufacture ventilators, and participated in a roundtable with community leaders. [Detroit News

Henry Ford Health System is implementing new protocols as it moves to resume its full slate of services. Among the changes are: All patients, visitors, and team members are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering buildings; masks must be worn inside hospitals, and Henry Ford will provide masks to those who need one; six-foot social distancing must be observed in waiting, seating, and lobby areas; and elevator capacity is limited. “The safety and well-being of our patients, visitors, and team members have always been our most important priority,” says Wright Lassiter III, Henry Ford’s president and CEO. “We have strived to do everything possible to make them feel safe when they come into our facilities to receive care or to provide care.” [Henry Ford Health System

Gov. Whitmer today signed an executive order that immediately allows gatherings of 10 people or fewer, so long as social distancing is practiced. Under the order, MLive reports that retailers and auto dealerships can also open for appointments starting May 26, and healthcare providers can perform nonessential procedures starting May 29. [MLive]   

A Court of Claims judge has ruled that Gov. Whitmer had the legal authority to extend Michigan’s state of emergency on April 30, which she did so after Republicans in the House and Senate said they would not extend the order. Following the ruling, Gov. Whitmer’s office released the following statement: “Today’s decision recognizes that the Governor’s actions to save lives are lawful and her orders remain in place. She will continue to do what she’s always done: take careful, decisive actions to protect Michiganders from this unprecedented, global pandemic. We owe it to our front line heroes who have been putting their lives on the line to pull together as a state and work as one team to stop the spread of this virus.” [Michigan.gov]

The Michigan Brewers Guild has canceled its Summer Beer Festival, which was originally scheduled for July 24 and 25 in Ypsilanti. “The health and safety of our guests, brewery staff, volunteers, and the general public remain our primary focus,” says Scott Graham, executive director of the guild. “We are disappointed that we won’t be able to gather with our fellow Michigan beer lovers this July, but given the continued uncertainty and safety protocols that remain in place, we believe this is the appropriate decision at this time.” Earlier this year, the guild also canceled its Spring Beer Festival, which would have taken place on May 16 in Traverse City. [Michigan Brewers Guild

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has awarded $502,400 in Emergency Relief Fund grants to 176 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in the state. Among the metro Detroit recipients are Arts & Scraps, Ann Arbor Street Fair, Detroit Public Theatre, and Detroit Historical Society. The council also secured $83,834 in funds from the nonprofit Arts Midwest to provide grants to 28 more Michigan organizations. Funds are intended to support salary for one or more employees, fees for artists and/or contracted individuals, and facility costs. [Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Production for Kill Switch, a 1950s period crime drama set to film in Detroit, has come to a halt, the Detroit Free Press reports. Director Steve Soderbergh says he still plans to bring the project — which will star actors such as George Clooney, Don Cheadle, and Jon Hamm — to the city when it’s safe to do so. [Detroit Free Press

Oakland County is awarding five manufacturers a total of $100,000 in grants to make personal protective equipment. Foam-N-More in Clawson is making face shields, Broadway Embroidery in Lake Orion and Inkpressions in Commerce Township are producing face masks, Premier International in Wixom is making face shields, and T.M Shea Products Inc. in Troy is making face shields, plastic sneeze guards, and credit card guards. [Oakgov.com

Southfield Parks & Recreation Department has canceled all its summer programming, including classes, programs, camps, special events, athletic leagues, and senior programs and trips. The Southfield Sports Arena pool will also be closed. The city’s Evergreen Hills Golf Course, parks, and nature preserves remain open. The city is also offering a virtual recreation program called Stay INterAcvtive, which features activities such as arts and crafts, games, and helpful links. [Southfield Parks & Recreation Department

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has released a video that explains the coronavirus pandemic to kids. The video is meant for kids ages 6 to 11, and it touches on knowledge about the virus and how to prevent its spread. A companion guide tells parents and family members how to discuss the pandemic with children. Click here to watch the video. [University of Michigan School of Public Health

According to NPR, at least a dozen barbers and stylists gathered on the Capitol lawn in Lansing yesterday to protest Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders by setting up stations for haircuts. The protest, called Operation Haircut, was in support of Karl Manke, a barber from Owosso who had his license revoked when he opened his business during the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. [NPR

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