House OKs Walberg measure requiring parent consent for student pronoun, name changes

Partnership allocates $15M in loans for Detroit's small businesses

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan and CEO of Goldman Sachs David Solomon announced $15 million in forgivable loans Friday for Detroit's small businesses who didn't receive federal funds to pay employees during the pandemic.

The city will be working with small business owners for personalized support and helping them through the application process. 

The loans will be for businesses with less than 500 employees, who haven't had loans approved by another bank and did not get access to the federal Paycheck Protection Program funds approved by Congress. Applicants can file online starting Friday.

"There are a number of companies who were tied up in their lending process and we have one bank who didn’t even get their lending process up and running until the money ran out," Duggan said.

Congress approved another $310 billion Thursday to the Paycheck Protection Program on top of $350 billion previously allocated. The size of loans can equal two times a businesses’ average monthly payroll plus an additional 25%. 

"We want to make sure Detroit's first in line. This is to help those who didn't get that application in the first time before the money ran out," he said.

Solomon said through Goldman Sachs surveying of recent graduates across the country, they "found one glaring disparity" that the loaning rates for black-owned small businesses is 12% lower than the overall rate.

"This is troubling," he said. "We need to do better, something we're committed to addressing, and we think lending is the most effective way to raise awareness and allocate capital for those underserved who need it most... Beyond providing capital, we do partnering with the CRF and ensure it actually reaches the underserved black-owned business."

Meanwhile, the most-impacted city in Michigan continues to endure significant swings in the number of reported deaths related to COVID-19.

Detroit tallied 30 more deaths on Friday after reporting 53 deaths a day earlier. The city's health department has recorded 816 deaths in total from the respiratory virus since the first case was identified here more than a month ago. In total, the city has 8,471 confirmed coronavirus cases.

"More than 1 in 1,000 of our neighbors has died in the last three weeks, but the reporting of the numbers just doesn't mean anything because the data is so delayed," Duggan said. "From about April 14-15, we have had a steady decline... and under control."

African Americans account for more than 75% of deaths in the city, according to records.

Duggan said the city has completed 15,000 tests and has been urging city staff and workers of essential businesses to make appointments for testing at a regional site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, even if they don't have prescriptions or symptoms. 

"If you have symptoms, there is a 40 to 50% chance you have COVID-19," Duggan said Friday. "That is if you're coughing or you have a fever or shortness of breath. It might be asthma, bronchitis, might be allergies, but if you have symptoms... it's a 40 to 50% chance. If you don't have any symptoms, there's a 10% chance."

Duggan said the city has also completed an aggressive 10-day effort to administer 1,932 tests to staff and patients in all of the 26 nursing home facilities in Detroit.

The facilities have been hard-hit by the virus, accounting for 157 of Detroit's COVID-19 deaths as of Friday. 

Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said Friday that 478 COVID-positive cases had been identified so far, an infection rate of 26%.

Duggan has said he expects that when the pandemic ends, up to a quarter of the city's victims will have been nursing home residents and staff. 

Four health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping Detroit respond to nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities by developing testing strategy, making site visits and conducting staff training. 

The mayor said he's disappointed with owners of grocery stores within the city over recent allegations of cleanliness and price gouging and the city will be cracking down.

"I expect by Monday, May 11, the grocery stores in this city be able to demonstrate to us that every single one of their employees has a recent negative COVID-19 test… If your employees are not going in to get a free test, there’s a real question about the way you’re operating your business," said Duggan, adding drug stores and gas stations will be next. 

Stay home through May 15

The update in cases comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her stay-at-home order through May 15, while lifting certain restrictions on businesses and outdoor activities.

The country's tenth most-populated state continues to lead third in the most deaths related to the virus; however, cases of COVID-19 are beginning to plateauing in Michigan, the governor said.

Michigan reported 108 additional deaths stemming from the novel coronavirus on Friday, a decrease from the day prior, bringing the state’s death toll due to the illness COVID-19 to 3,085.

The state also confirmed 1,350 new cases Friday, bringing its cumulative total cases to 36,641, according to state data.

Under the new order, some Michigan businesses can reopen, as may cordoned off sections of big-box stores such as garden centers. The governor is also allowing people to participate in activities such as golf and motorized boating as long as they observe social distancing rules to remain six feet apart and wear masks.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_