Dan Gilbert's Rock Family of Companies announced Thursday a public-private partnership to get Michigan’s strained health care system the resources it needs to fight the coronavirus.
“As Detroit’s largest employer, we recognize our critical role in serving the members of our community,” Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, said in a press release. “This is a time for the public and private sectors to come together for a common goal, and we encourage the entire business community to use everything at their disposal to support our essential frontline workers who are working tirelessly to reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Michigan has become one of the nation’s coronavirus hotspots. As of April 2, it recorded 10,791 cases and 473 deaths — ranking a respective fourth and third nationally.
But as quickly as it surged in case counts, it also began to lead in public and private-sector responses.
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In mid-March, Quicken Loans Community Fund (QLCF) and the Gilbert Family Foundation committed $1.2 million to address local COVID-19 impacts — including $500,000 to the United Way, $250,000 to the United Community Housing Coalition to address housing effects, and $450,000 to float small businesses.
Bedrock also announced a three-month rent waiver for all of its small business restaurant and retail tenants.
As part of the efforts announced Thursday, QLCF will purchase 100,000 N95 masks to donate to local health care workers, as well as a mask production line to scale local output to more than 500,000 masks weekly. The Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) will contribute human capital to the latter project, and Carhartt will offer a production facility in-kind.
The Rock Family of Companies is contributing contracted aircraft to expedite delivery of medtech in short supply; a procurement team to the fight to vet hospital suppliers for fair pricing and quality; access to its workforce and tech infrastructure; tents and call center support for drive-up testing sites; and financial capital for local nonprofits.
Health Care Response
Henry Ford Health System has taken the lead on a national, eight-week study of hydroxychloroquine — a treatment for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis — as a preventive drug. The hospitals will dose their own front-line health care workers in a blind study to identify whether those taking the drug have a lower incidence of infection or have milder symptoms than those given a placebo.
"It's been well-thought out and we will definitively prove whether or not this drug prevents health care workers, first responders, the people who are at highest risk for getting this disease from getting this disease,” Henry Ford interventional cardiologist and organizer of the study Dr. William O’Neill told the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit’s hospitals will also be the first to employ Abbott Laboratories' (NYSE: ABT) five-minute COVID-19 tests. Thanks to a Sunday wake-up call from Mayor Mike Duggan to Abbott Chairman Miles White, Detroit will receive five machines and 5,000 tests to clear first responders who are self-isolating but have yet to test positive.
As part of the Quicken Loans partnership, ISAIC will produce gowns and personal protection equipment for local health care workers. Xenith, a football equipment company, will assemble face shields.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has joined production of 3M Co (NYSE: MMM) respirators, General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) ventilators, and face shields. It has also deployed its 3D printing technology to craft disposable respirators.
Michigan incidence rates and death tolls far outpace those of neighbors in the Great Lakes region, and experts quoted in Bridge Magazine attributed the state suffering to delayed political reaction. Michigan’s stay-at-home order came after the state struck more than 1,500 cases. Illinois waited until 750, and Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana responded even more rapidly.
Nonetheless, one Politico editor ranked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the fifth best governor in the nation for her handling of the outbreak and her pushback against the Trump Administration’s aid approach.
In a clash with the president, she earned the president’s dismissive monikers “the woman in Michigan” and “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer.” She wasn’t unsuccessful in her negotiating, though. The state received mask and ventilator shipments from the federal supply.
“We are so grateful to not only our region’s healthcare providers, but the countless Detroiters who are working long hours so that families can stay safe in their homes,” Farner said. “We cannot forget the sacrifice made by grocery store employees, mail carriers, fast food workers and all critical employees. We appreciate you all.”
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