Metro Detroit’s Latest COVID-19 Updates: May 6

A quick look at what’s happening locally
ford motor co - covid-19
A paid volunteer UAW worker manufactures an air-purifying respirator at Ford Motor Co.’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan. // Photograph courtesy of Ford

The CDC is now reporting 1.194 million cases of COVID-19 and 70,802 deaths in the U.S. According to CNN, at least 43 states will have partially or completely reopened by May 10. Today, the Houston City Council approved a $15 million rent relief fund for its city, Maryland closed its schools for the rest of the academic year, and a new study claims that blood thinning drugs may help patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Here’s what’s happening in metro Detroit:

The state of Michigan today reported 657 new COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths. In total, the state has seen 45,054 cases and 4,250 deaths. []

In his daily press conference, Mayor Mike Duggan shared that the city of Detroit has now seen 1,128 deaths since the start of the pandemic. While that number is high, he remains optimistic about where things are heading. The week of April 14, the city saw 208 deaths, the following week it saw 127, and the week after that 60. “They’re basically being cut in half every week,” Duggan said, adding that the goal is to continue pushing the numbers down. Duggan also shared that less than 8% of the 1,500 COVID-19 tests done in the city yesterday came back positive. “We have not seen overall results of infection rates of below 8 percent,” he said. “The social distancing is working.” Currently, the TCF Center field hospital only has one patient. Watch the entire conference on the Facebook page for the City of Detroit Government. [Facebook: City of Detroit Government]

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced that 2,700 businesses in the state have been awarded a total of $10 million in Michigan Small Business Relief Program grants. The program was launched to help small businesses in the state that have been impacted by the coronavirus. Oakland County’s economic development organization received $1.15 million to distribute to its local businesses, Macomb County’s economic development organization received $800,000, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. received $1.6 million. “The Michigan Small Business Relief Program grants were intended to provide critical capital to support the health and sustainability of the state’s small businesses, communities, and workforce,” says MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. “By collaborating with our local economic development partners, we were able to deliver vital resources to small businesses all across Michigan.” [Michigan Economic Development Corp.]

The Michigan House and Senate filed a lawsuit today in the Michigan Court of Claims against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The governor’s state of emergency was set to expire on April 30. That day, the Legislature met and decided to not extend the state of emergency. On the evening of April 30, Whitmer signed new emergency and disaster declarations using independent sources of statutory authority. “While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said in a press release at the time. “By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.” The lawsuit filed today claims that these actions by Whitmer were unlawful. “…We saw the governor ignore the law, unilaterally extend the emergency, and write new executive orders,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey in a statement. “If left unchecked, the governor could extend her authority indefinitely. Michigan citizens cannot wait that long for a path forward to regain their lives and their livelihoods.” [Facebook: Michigan Senate Republicans]

Air-purifying respirators built by Ford Motor Co. in collaboration with 3M are now being shipped to healthcare workers across the country. Since March, 90 paid UAW volunteers have assembled more than 10,000 air-purifying respirators at the auto company’s facility near Flat Rock, Michigan. According to officials with Ford, they can make 100,000 or more. “I’m proud of all of the vehicles I’ve help build over the years, but this is something totally different,” says Michele Strong, a team leader volunteering at the Ford facility. “I’m up for this experience to help the world – to help the situation we’ve got. A lot of friends ask me, ‘Are you really going to do this?’ and I say, ‘Yes. It’s the right thing to do.’” Ford is also shipping 500,000 reusable medical gowns to the state of New Jersey. [Ford Motor Co.]

General Motors Co. reported a net profit of $294 million for the first quarter. Company officials say its first-quarter performance was strong, but the results were impacted by COVID-19. As the coronavirus spread across the globe, the company extended its holiday shutdown in China and suspended production in North and South America while also transitioning to producing ventilators and face masks. [General Motors Co.]

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says owners of the city’s retail outlets will face fines if they don’t properly protect their employees and customers against COVID-19. In a letter shared today, Fouts says that businesses should be adhering to Gov. Whitmer’s guidelines by using masks and protective shields, encouraging customers to not crowd aisles, and following social distancing. “I will be instructing the Warren Police Department to conduct patrols of our retail areas to enforce compliance with these rules and conduct enforcement of all provisions including the issuance of warnings and/or citations for repeated failures to comply,” he said in the letter. “…I think if you follow these guidelines you will have more consumer’s wanting to patronize your business when you put employees and customer safety first.” [Facebook: City of Warren]